The United States is imposing new visa restrictions on certain current and former Taliban members, non-state security group members and others who are believed to be involved in repressing the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Wednesday.
The announcement comes more than a month after the Taliban announced bans on women attending universities and working with non-governmental organizations. Blinken cited those decisions as contributing to the new visa bans and said the US condemns the actions in “the strongest of terms.”
“The Taliban’s most recent edicts ban women from universities and from working with NGOs, and further the Taliban’s previous measures that closed secondary schools to girls and limit the ability of women and girls to participate in the Afghan society and economy,” Blinken said in a State Department statement.
“Through these decisions, the Taliban have again shown their disregard for the welfare of the Afghan people,” he added.
The State Department statement did not name those who are impacted by the move.
Blinken referenced other actions by the Taliban that have undermined the rights of women and girls since the group took control of the country after the chaotic US military withdrawal in 2021.
“So far, the Taliban’s actions have forced over one million school-aged Afghan girls and young women out of the classroom, with more women out of universities and countless Afghan women out of the workforce. These numbers will only grow as time goes on, worsening the country’s already dire economic and humanitarian crises,” Blinken said.
Deeming equal access to education and work an “essential component to the vitality and resiliency of entire populations,” Blinken said these steps will hurt the Taliban’s standing globally.
“The Taliban cannot expect the respect and support of the international community until they respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Afghans, including women and girls,” Blinken said.
Blinken committed once again to working alongside allies to impose “significant costs” on the Taliban’s actions.