46 senators have joined a bipartisan effort to urge the Biden administration to prioritize and protect Afghan women leaders who are in ‘unparalleled danger’

afghanistan women protest kabul
Afghan women holding placards gathered to demand the protection of Afghan women's rights in front of the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 17.
  • A bipartisan group of 46 senators penned a letter to the Biden administration urging them to protect Afghan women leaders.
  • The senators asked for allowances to be made specifically for female leaders, activists, and human rights defenders.
  • The senators say these women now face unparalleled danger following the Taliban's takeover.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A bipartisan group of 46 US Senators have called on the Biden administration to act swiftly and protect Afghan women leaders, who they say now face unparalleled danger in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

The senators penned a letter to the Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas in a bipartisan effort led by New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

They urged the US government to take "swift, robust action" to "protect those women who might fall through the cracks of the US government's response."

The senators asked for a separate visa pathway to the US to be created specifically for Afghan women leaders, activists, judges, parliamentarians, and human rights defenders. They stressed the urgency of the matter, noting that these women are now targets who are being "hunted by Taliban fighters who are going house-to-house with their names."

"In areas captured by the Taliban, there are reports of war crimes including summary executions, public beatings and flogging of women, sexual violence and forced marriage, as well as clampdowns on media and other forms of communication," wrote the senators.

"We and our staff are receiving regular reports regarding the targeting, threatening, kidnapping, torturing, and assassinations of women for their work defending and promoting democracy, equality, higher education, and human rights," they added.

The Taliban is slated to formally retake power in the country and plan to rename it the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The last time they were in power in 2001, women's freedoms were greatly restricted under its version of Sharia law. In recent weeks, however, the Taliban has attempted to pose as moderates, suggesting that women should join its government.

But Afghan women are now afraid that they will be barred from working and stoned if they break rules. And women like Zarifa Ghafari, a 27-year-old female mayor and women's rights activist, told the UK media outlet iNews this week that the Taliban "will come for people like me and kill me."

In the meantime, female Afghan journalists are continuing to report the news. Videos also showed four women in Kabul protesting for their rights in the midst of the Taliban takeover, even while armed men stood nearby.

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