U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday called on ally nations to similarly punish Afghanistan over its repressive policies targeting women and girls. File Photo by Michael A. McCoy/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 12 (UPI) -- The Biden administration has imposed new visa restrictions on current and former members of the Afghanistan government over its repression of women and girls.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the visa restriction policy will apply to current and former Taliban, members of non-state security groups and others believed to be responsible or complicit in the government's repressive policies.
"We continue to press the Taliban and others to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms -- including the right to education -- of all Afghans, including women and girls," Blinken tweeted.
The Taliban regained control of Afghanistan amid the U.S. military's withdrawal from the country in late August of 2021. As it retook the helm of the Middle Eastern nation, the Taliban vowed to protect the rights women and girls had gained in the last 20 years following the United States invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
In the year since regaining power, human rights violations committed against women and girls under the Taliban "have mounted steadily," according to an August United Nations report on the topic.
Violations include escalating restrictions on women's movement and bodies, including mandating women to cover their faces in public and for them to remain at home unless it is necessary for them to go outside.
The Taliban also made Afghanistan the only country in the world to bar girls from attending high school when they said sixth grade is the highest level of education a girl may achieve.
Blinken described the regression of women's rights in Afghanistan as having effectively barred them from full participating in public life.
"We call on other governments to join us in taking similar actions and to continue to underscore a collective message that only a government in Afghanistan that represents all its people and protects and promotes the human rights of every individual could be considered legitimate," he said in a statement.
The individuals specifically targeted in Tuesday's move were not identified.
The measure was also imposed on the United Nations' International Day of the Girl Child.