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U.S. State Department Announces Visa Restrictions in Response to Repression of Women, Girls in Afghanistan

Blinken’s press statement on Tuesday was released on tenth anniversary of the U.N.’s first International Day of the Girl.
Afghan women in blue burqas wait outside the city’s bakeries, waiting for any passerby to buy them bread, Kabul, Afghanistan, July 21, 2022. (Photo: Alfred Yaghobzadeh/ABACAPRESS.COM)
Afghan women in blue burqas wait outside the city’s bakeries, waiting for any passerby to buy them bread, Kabul, Afghanistan, July 21, 2022. (Photo: Alfred Yaghobzadeh/ABACAPRESS.COM)

By All Arab News Staff | October 15, 2022

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in a statement on Tuesday a new government policy to restrict the issuance of U.S. visas for any current or former Taliban members, members of non-state security groups and other individuals believed to be responsible for, immediately related to, or complicit in repressing or enforcing violent behavior towards women and girls in Afghanistan.

“Despite public assurances that it would respect the human rights of all Afghans, the Taliban has issued and enforced a series of policies or edicts that effectively bar women and girls in Afghanistan from full participation in public life, including access to secondary education and work in most industries,” Blinken stated in the press announcement.

The new sanctions, issued under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, are intended to punish the Taliban and other individuals for their repressive treatment of women and girls in Afghanistan, specifically by hampering their freedom of movement to enter or travel within the U.S.

Blinken’s statement called out unethical policies which block access to secondary or higher education for girls and women and gave other examples of discrimination, which include “preventing women’s full participation in the workforce and obstructing their ability to choose their careers; restricting women’s movement, expression, or privacy; as well as engaging in violence and harassment including unjust arrest and detention of women, girls, or their family members for noncompliance.”

“As a grim example, for more than a year, Afghanistan remains the only country in the world where girls are systemically barred from attending school beyond the sixth grade, with no return date in sight,” Blinken’s statement read.

“We call on other governments to join us in taking similar actions and to continue to underscore a collective message that only a government in Afghanistan that represents all its people and protects and promotes the human rights of every individual could be considered legitimate.”

“The United States strongly supports the Afghan people and remains committed to doing all we can to protect and promote the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Afghans, including women and girls.”

The press announcement was released by the U.S. State Department on “International Day of the Girl,” the tenth anniversary of the United Nations’ declaration of a special day to “recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.”

After U.S.-led forces left the war-torn country in August 2021, the Taliban returned to power and barred girls from attending secondary school. Women have been allowed to attend university. A recent suicide bombing of a Kabul classroom killed and wounded students. The suicide bomber blew himself up next to women at a gender-segregated study center packed with hundreds of students taking practice tests for university admissions. The death toll was 53, including 46 girls and young women.

Unprecedented and historic women-led protests against the Islamic regime have been taking place throughout Iran following the September murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the Iranian ‘morality police.’ Amini was reportedly killed for wearing her head scarf improperly, suffering severe blows to the head, however police claim she died of a heart attack.

Since then, an uprising has spread across universities, sparkling rallies worldwide in solidarity with Iran’s protestors.

While speaking at the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem conference on Tuesday evening , Israeli lawmaker and Knesset Member, Sharren Haskel, cut a chunk of her hair as a symbol of support for female Iranian demonstrators.

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