US asset freezes worsen Afghan women’s suffering: UN experts

The United States, as well as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), is contributing to the suffering of women in Afghanistan through asset freezes, U.N. independent experts said on Monday.

The United Nations and foreign governments, including Washington, have condemned moves by the IEA to backtrack on women’s rights commitments such as on girls’ education in the months following their takeover in August last year, Reuters reported.

However, the statement by 14 U.N. independent rights experts also blamed the U.S. government for making life worse for Afghan women through blocking billions of dollars of central bank assets made up in part of aid money for the country accumulated over decades.

“While gender-based violence has been a long-standing and severe threat to women and girls, it has been exacerbated by the measures imposed by the US…,” said the statement, without giving specific details.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson said the statement contained “serious mistakes” and denied that U.S. actions had increased hardships faced by Afghan women under IEA rule.

The statement also blamed the IEA’s “widening gender-based discrimination” for deteriorating women’s rights.

The current humanitarian crisis in which 23 million, or some 60% of the population, are reliant on food aid is having a “disproportionate impact” on women and children, the statement added.

Afghan central bank funds have been frozen since August when the IEA took over and foreign forces withdrew.