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Entire group of female US senators call on Biden to protect Afghan women's rights

The entire contingent of US female senators called on President Joe Biden on Thursday to “preserve the political, economic, social, and basic human rights” of Afghanistan’s women and girls as the country grapples with hardline Taliban rule.

The bipartisan group of two-dozen lawmakers urged the president to “develop an interagency plan to preserve the political, economic, social, and basic human rights of Afghan women and girls.”

“American disengagement from Afghanistan puts at risk hard-won gains for Afghan women and girls,” they wrote in a letter to Biden. “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 was led by Republican Senators Joni Ernst and her Democratic colleague, Dianne Feinstein.

The US under Biden withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of August after the Taliban led a lightning offensive against the internationally-recognized government, taking the capital Kabul on Aug. 15 as former President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

Prior to the Taliban’s takeover, an estimated 3.5 million girls were attending schools and 100,000 were enrolled in universities, the senators wrote. The former Afghanistan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry further reported about 1,000 new female entrepreneurs in 2020.

The Taliban promised to preserve the rights of women and girls, but their nascent rule has been repeatedly criticized for failing to accomplish that pledge.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Oct. 11 that he was “particularly alarmed to see promises made to Afghan women and girls by the Taliban being broken.”

“Broken promises lead to broken dreams for the women and girls of Afghanistan,” he said, maintaining that Afghanistan’s women and girls “need to be the center of attention.”

Guterres said 80% of Afghanistan’s economy is informal with women playing “a preponderant role” there as the economy collapses without the robust international aid seen during the US occupation.

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