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11/08/2021 Afghanistan (International Christian Concern) – As the U.S.-backed government of Afghanistan collapsed in August, so did the hopes and dreams of millions of Afghan women and girls who had enjoyed the benefits of education and other freedoms that the Taliban had suppressed prior to the U.S. invasion in 2001. For the first time since gaining access to education, women and girls were faced again with the reality of the brutal and dictatorial regime of the Taliban.

In the aftermath of the debacle, a bipartisan group of 24 female Senators led by Joni Ernst (R-IA) penned a letter to President Biden pressing him to develop a plan to preserve the basic human rights of the women and girls of Afghanistan.

“You have committed to pressing the Taliban to uphold the rights of women and girls, and you have stated that America will maintain an enduring partnership with the people of Afghanistan resisting Taliban rule,” said the letter. It also drew attention to the violence faced by women in Afghanistan and cited the need for women to have male escorts leave their homes.

The Senators requested a briefing from the administration about their plan.

While women continue to face severe discrimination from the Taliban, Afghanistan’s religious minorities face exceedingly dire circumstances. Christians are among the most vulnerable populations. Mostly in underground house churches, the believers–mostly converts from Islam–live their faith in near complete secrecy and in fear for their lives. The Taliban considers them apostate and subject to Sharia law’s deadliest punishments according to their extreme version of Islam.

Christians are estimated to number between 8,000 and 12,000 people throughout Afghanistan.

Matias Perttula, Director of Advocacy and International Christian Concern, said, “The Biden administration must focus on all at-risk populations of Afghanistan, including the Christians who live in extreme fear and danger for their chosen faith. The Senators are right to call for a plan for preserving the rights of women, but we must not forget Christians and other religious minorities.”

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