WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The Biden administration is considering offering an expedited visa path for vulnerable Afghans including female politicians, journalists, and activists who may become targets of the Taleban, United States officials say.
Rights groups have been asking the US State Department and White House to add up to 2,000 visas specifically for vulnerable women and women's advocates to a developing policy plan to evacuate thousands Afghans after the US military pullout this month.
The current plan includes translators who worked with foreign forces.
One of the officials said the administration is looking not only at women who are under threat, but also men and minorities in high-risk professions.
Women who made gains during the two-decade US occupation, and their supporters and advocates, should be part of any expedited list, rights groups have argued to the White House and State Department.
"Lives are at risk," said Ms Teresa Casale, advocacy director for Mina's List, which advocates for women's representation in governments around the world. "Women leaders are being actively targeted and killed by Taleban forces. They receive threats against their lives and safety every day."
The group and others are recommending these visas be added to an expedited activation process for Afghan people most at risk, by creating a fast-track programme in the State Department, and that US officials actively pursue diplomacy to other countries as well to secure them.
The White House declined to comment on the push to secure more visas for Afghan women's rights advocates.
President Joe Biden will speak on Thursday (July 8) afternoon about the US military's withdrawal, and is expected to mention women's rights.
Female police officers, media workers, judges and medical workers have been assassinated in Afghanistan as the foreign military left the country.
Women who appear on television and radio faced particular threats, Human Rights Watch wrote in April.
"Female reporters may be targeted not only for issues they cover but also for challenging perceived social norms prohibiting women from being in a public role and working outside the home."
Under the Taleban, women were barred from education or work, required to fully cover their bodies, and could not leave home without a male relative. "Moral offences" were punished by flogging and stoning.