All 24 female senators press Biden on women’s rights in Afghanistan

Afghan women hold placards as they take part in a protest in Herat
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All 24 female U.S. senators signed a letter to President Biden urging him to develop a plan to preserve the basic human rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. 

“Lacking a legitimate Afghan government and military forces to protect them, women and girls are now suffering the predations of a Taliban regime with a track record of brutalizing, isolating, and denying them life and liberty,” the letter said.

The bipartisan letter, led by Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst (R), also acknowledged that Afghanistan’s previous government operated under a constitution that promoted human rights and ensured certain freedoms to women and girls despite its other flaws. 

“You have committed to press the Taliban to uphold the rights of women and girls, and you have stated that America will maintain an enduring partnership with the people of Afghanistan resisting Taliban rule,” the senators wrote to Biden.

The letter highlighted violence including “beatings and killings” that women in Afghanistan have faced in addition to restrictions like being unable to leave their homes without a “male guardian.”

“Afghan women and girls need our action now,” they wrote in addition to requesting a briefing from the Biden administration about their plan to address this matter. 

A White House National Security Council spokesperson said “The United States will continue to support Afghan women and girls” in a statement to The Hill. 

“We are closely watching the Taliban’s actions across the country, and will work with Congress and with our allies and partners to support women and girls, and promote accountability for the perpetrators of human rights abuses and violations,” the spokesperson added.

The letter comes after the U.S. withdrew forces from Afghanistan earlier this year and the Taliban gained control over Kabul in August for the first time in two decades.

Biden discussed humanitarian assistance and promoting human rights for Afghans, including women and girls, in a virtual meeting with Group of 20 leaders last month.

Also last month, the Taliban approved reopening some secondary schools to girls in regions where women have a relatively more dominant role in society.

Elementary schools previously reopened but separated male students from female students, effectively banning education for girls beyond elementary school.

Updated 6:22 p.m.

Tags Afghanistan Joe Biden Joni Ernst Taliban Women in Afghanistan

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