Hogan Lovells Pro Bono contributes to an Independent Parliamentary Gender Apartheid Inquiry

The International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has convened the Gender Apartheid Inquiry - a new British Parliamentary ad-hoc inquiry into whether the systematic oppression of women and girls in Afghanistan and Iran constitutes gender apartheid. The Commission led by the renowned human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy KC aims to identify practical and meaningful steps that can be taken to address it, as a matter of urgent international concern, including within the context of gender apartheid.

A Hogan Lovells Team prepared a submission based on interviews from Afghan sportswomen, including the former captain of the Afghan Football team and a founder member of the Afghan women’s national cycling team. The comprehensive submission demonstrates how Afghan women’s national sporting teams’ rights to equal treatment have been affected by the Taliban’s resurgence.

Before the Taliban took over in 2021, Afghanistan had opened up schools to girls; 69 out of 249 seats in Parliament were open to women; and women became more visible across the board – from sport to journalism.

Dr Hajar Abulfazl was a member of the Afghan women’s football team for almost ten years, becoming captain of the national team. She gave a stark reminder of how the Taliban regime has sought to eradicate the rights of women. Dr Abulfazl spoke about women burning their jerseys, certificates and diplomas to eliminate their very identity – their only exposure to sport now is from the side lines where they witness the men’s teams training in the same ground where they once played and playing international matches.

The report was launched in Parliament by Baroness Kennedy (left) and Fawzia Koofi (right).

Baroness Kennedy (left) and Fawzia Koofi (right)

The aim is now to advocate for the crime of gender apartheid, covering the systematic removal of women from public life through legislative and constitutional changes , as a crime against humanity which can be incorporated into the new proposed UN Convention being prepared by the International Law Commission.

The Hogan Lovells team were:

Ina Brock, Clare Matheson, Cora Brickenkamp, Clara Maria Wende, Tara Nestor, Tara Cowling, Miriam Bloss, Phillipp Schmidt, Lucia Socher, Anneliesa Ward, Yasmin Waljee, Halyea Campbell and Marion Fischer.

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