This subsection refers to women who are considered to have a public role in Afghanistan, such as a position in the former government, law enforcement, education, healthcare, NGOs, or media.
For women, there are many societal and family restrictions. For example, the participation of women in the ANSF remained a taboo in society although the importance of women within the police had been reported in the press and female police officers were recruited. Most women in public roles faced intimidation, threats, violence, or killings. Women who worked outside the home, in general, encountered frequent sexual harassment and abuse at the workplace and could be considered by society as transgressing moral codes, as bringing dishonour to the family (e.g. women in law enforcement), and as being non-Afghan or Western (e.g. women in journalism). After the Taliban takeover there were reports of professional women staying indoors. Female human rights defenders and women’s rights activists have been considered to be in a particularly difficult situation because they were not only targeted for their work, but also for challenging social and religious patriarchal norms [Anti-government elements, 126.96.36.199; State structure, 2.1.2, 3.6; Conflict targeting, 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11, 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124; Society-based targeting, 3.1, 3.3.2, 3.3.3, Security September 2021, 1.1.4]. In 2020 and the beginning of 2021, judicial officials continued to be targeted. In a situation of ‘poor security and direct threats to judges’, female judges in particular were reported to be reluctant ‘to work in remote districts.’ [Security June 2021, 1.4.2].
Women in public roles could be subjected to mistreatment by the Taliban and other armed groups, by the woman’s family or clan, as well as by society in general [Anti-Government Elements, 126.96.36.199; Society-based targeting, 3.3].
With regard to women in media, see 2.7 Journalists, media workers and human rights defenders. With regard to women in education, see 2.5 Educational personnel. With regard to female humanitarian workers and healthcare practitioners, see 2.6 Healthcare professionals and humanitarian workers, including individuals working for national and international NGOs.
The acts to which women in public roles could be exposed are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. violence and killings).
Limited and conflicting information concerning the policies and strategy the Taliban intend to pursue towards women in public roles renders an assessment of the future risk for individuals under this profile difficult based on current information. The assessment whether there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account up-to-date information in this regard, as well as the possibility for persecution by other actors, including the family or society in general. Risk-impacting circumstances could include: being seen as not complying with conditions set by the Taliban, visibility of the applicant (e.g. nature of the work), conservative environment, perception of traditional gender roles by the family or network, etc.
Nexus to a reason for persecution
Available information indicates that persecution of this profile is highly likely to be for reasons of (imputed) political opinion and/or religion.
See other topics concerning women and girls: