All female members of the U.S. Senate have called on President Joe Biden to protect the rights of Afghan women and girls in the wake of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
In a bipartisan letter, the 24 U.S. lawmakers, led by Democrat Dianne Feinstein and Republican Joni Ernst, urged the Biden administration to come up with an “interagency plan” that preserves the political, social, economic, and basic human rights of Afghan women and girls.
After overthrowing the internationally recognized government in Kabul in mid-August, the Taliban claimed it would show more moderation than during its brutal rule from 1996 to 2001, when girls were not allowed to attend school and women were banned from work, education, and sports.
However, the United Nations and rights groups have slammed the Taliban's "broken" promises to allow women to work and girls to have access to all levels of education, and blamed Afghanistan’s new rulers for imposing “wide-ranging restrictions” on media and free speech.
"American disengagement from Afghanistan puts at risk hard-won gains for Afghan women and girls," the lawmakers' letter said, noting that some 3.5 million Afghan girls were enrolled in school and 100,000 women were attending higher education institutions last year.
"However, 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 said.
"Women have been the victims of targeted beatings and killings and are banned from leaving home without a male guardian," it said.
The 24 female senators said the Biden administration's plan should address how the United States will work with international organizations -- such as the United Nations -- to hold the Taliban accountable.
"Afghan women and girls need our action now. We request and look forward to a briefing from the Administration on your plan," the letter concluded.