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Angelina Jolie shines spotlight on Afghan women on anniversary of US withdrawal

Angelina Jolie arrives in Yemen
Marwan Tahtah/UNHCR via The Associated Press

Angelina Jolie is urging the world not to “back away from Afghanistan,” saying everyone should be “outraged” by the mistreatment of women there by the Taliban.

In a Monday essay in Time, the “Maleficent” actor said a sense of progress “has been overturned with unimaginable speed” since the United States’s military withdrawal a year ago from the country. Monday marked a year since the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul and the collapse of the Afghan government following the chaotic U.S. withdrawal.

“Women are again being beaten in the streets or taken from their homes at night and tortured, and the country’s jails are filling up with female political prisoners. There are reports of girls being kidnapped into forced marriage with Taliban leaders,” Jolie, 47, wrote.

A report released earlier this month by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction found that the Taliban continue to hinder girls and women from receiving an education and have placed additional restrictions on their freedoms.

“Peace built on the oppression of women is no peace at all, but a society constantly at war with itself,” said Jolie, a special envoy for the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR. “It is the height of futility — if not cowardice — for authorities in any country to incarcerate and torture women whose only crime is to have contributed to the success and health and stability and education of their own people.”

“For America and other countries we allied with, the worst possible step would be to back away from Afghanistan because we are exhausted by the last two decades and ashamed of our failure,” the Academy Award winner said. “But we should remember why we were involved in Afghanistan in the first place: None of those factors have gone away.”

“We were right to be outraged by the mistreatment of women in Afghanistan in the 1990s, and we should still be outraged today,” the mom of six wrote.

Saying that the U.S. has “walked steadily back from its promises to Afghan women” in recent years, Jolie appealed to leaders to “make no further diplomatic concessions at the expense of women and instead should be looking for ways to support them.”

Jolie said she dreams of visiting Afghanistan with her daughters and seeing the women there “free to determine your own future.”

Noting the “many dark moments” in Afghanistan’s history, Jolie said, “This does not end here.”

“I’m sure,” she wrote, “that this isn’t the final chapter.”

Tags Afghanistan Angelina Jolie Women's rights
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