Volker Turk
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk

Why UNHCR Volker Turk is concerned over backsliding of gender equality

Says Afghanistan and its rulers Taliban are the “worst of the worst” and calls Taliban’s oppression of women “unparalleled"; also flags misogyny in social media

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk has warned about the “pushback and backsliding” and “systematic countering of women’s rights and gender equality” around the world.

Talking to AFP news agency, Turk warned of the misogynistic sexist attitudes that are prevailing in social media world over. “We see it in social media, for example, where misogynistic, sexist comments seem to be allowed in a way, and thriving, which is very concerning,” he said.

Also read: Taliban bars women from university education in Afghanistan

Insisting on the need for “guardrails”, Turk said this will ensure that social media platforms “don’t add fuel to the fire”.

‘Worst of the worst’

Calling out Afghanistan and its rulers Taliban, Turk labelled them as the “worst of the worst”. He went to the extent of calling Taliban’s repression of women “unparalleled”.

Earlier last month, the Taliban stopped women and banned them from working in nongovernmental organisations. The Taliban has already rolled back promises allowing women and girls to receive secondary and University education.

Also read: Iran lashes out at France over new Charlie Hebdo cartoons targeting Khamenei

The UN human rights chief requested the worldwide community to “act in utmost solidarity with the women and the girls of Afghanistan”, adding that, “and we need to make sure that this cannot be the norm in the future.”

Waiting to visit Iran

Turk said he is waiting to visit Iran but the country’s authorities had yet to respond to his request. Iran witnessed widespread protests after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in police custody (she allegedly violated the country’s strict dress code for women).

Oslo-based Iran Human Rights group claims nearly 500 people have been killed, while thousands have been detained in connection with the protests.

Also read: Iran releases Oscar-winning film actress held over protests

If allowed to visit Iran, Turk said he would again call for a repeal of “discriminatory practices against women and girls” and raise the issue of brutal retribution against the protests. “The death penalty must absolutely not be used in this type of context under any circumstances,” he said.

The UN human rights official said these misogynistic deeds were “a last attempt by patriarchy to show its force,” against a worldwide movement encouraging the empowerment of women and gender equity.

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