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EU Sanctions Women's Rights Violators

On the eve of International Women's Day, a number of women protested in Kabul. March 7, 2023.
On the eve of International Women's Day, a number of women protested in Kabul. March 7, 2023.

The European Union on Tuesday imposed sanctions ahead of International Women's Day against officials from six countries, including Russia and Afghanistan, for violence and rights abuses against women.

The new EU sanctions target a number of persons and entities around the world who are accused of committing rights violations against women.

Two Moscow police officers, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Fedorinov and his subordinate Ivan Ryabov, are accused of ordering the arrest and torture of female anti-war protesters.

Also named are Russian special forces commander Major General Nikolai Kuznetsov and tank commander Colonel Ramil Ibatullin, whose units are accused of systematic acts of rape and sexual violence in Ukraine.

From Afghanistan, the Taliban minister for higher education Neda Mohammad Nadeem and the minister for the propagation of virtue and the repression of vice, Muhammad Khalid Hanafi, are also listed.

The former is accused of depriving women of education and the second of "curbing their freedom of speech and expression, and inflicting harsh punishments and violence on those who do not respect the Taliban's edicts."

In South Sudan, the commissioner for Mayiandit county, Gatluak Nyang Hoth, and of Koch county, Gordon Koang Biel, are said to have made "widespread and systematic use of sexual violence as a war tactic and instrumentalised it as a reward and entitlement for men participating in the conflict."

Myanmar's deputy minister of home affairs Toe Ui is said to have allowed military security agents to "use forced nudity, rape, electro-shocks, burning of genitalia and excessive violence during the arbitrary detention and interrogation of men, women and members of the LGBTIQ community."

Ui is a former head of the Office of the Chief of Military Security affairs (OCMSA), which is listed separately as an agency responsible "for systematic and widespread sexual and gender-based violence."

Iran's Qarchak prison in Tehran province is listed as a place where women are subjected the sexual abuse by guards and threatened with rape to extract false confessions.

And in Syria, the Republican Guard is said to be ordered by the government "to use sexual and gender-based violence to repress and intimidate the Syrian people, particularly women and girls."

The names are expected to be formally added to the EU sanctions list later in the day, but diplomatic sources confirmed to AFP that they had been approved by member states.

"By imposing these sanctions, we're sending a clear message to perpetrators that they won't get away with their crimes," the Netherlands' foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra said in a news release.

"This is also a message to the victims: the EU will support you, wherever you are in the world. Sanctions are a powerful way for us to stand up for universal values and force international change," he said.

"We will not hesitate to expand the list to include other perpetrators of sexual violence."