Speaking Of Asia

The urgent need to protect Afghanistan's women

More pressure needs to be asserted on the Taliban. Three countries - Pakistan, China and the United States - have unique levers that should be used.

Afghan women's rights defenders and civil activists demonstrating in a protest calling on the Taliban to preserve women's achievements and education, in Kabul on Sept 3, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS
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Nearly a quarter century ago, when she was a counsellor in the office of then United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Ms Wendy Sherman, together with her boss, used their gender to gain entry into the women's section of the refugee camps for displaced Afghans in the Pakistani border city of Peshawar.

The tales the two heard from the women housed there were horrendous, including of rape. One young woman had escaped the Taliban - which had recently seized power in Afghanistan - by jumping out of an upstairs window.

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