Press Releases

Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced the Protect Women’s and Girls’ Rights in Afghanistan Act, a bill to protect the significant human rights gains that have been made in Afghanistan over the past 20 years as U.S. forces prepare to pull out of the country.

The bill introduction comes in the wake of a bombing in Kabul last weekend that killed dozens of Afghan girls attending school. Also cosponsoring the bill are Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.).

“I’m extremely concerned about what will happen to the women and girls of Afghanistan when U.S. troops pull out of the country,” Senator Feinstein said. “We need look no further than last weekend’s horrific bombing in Kabul to see the danger on the horizon. The bombing targeted girls at their school, killing dozens. I cannot and will not vote for any funds in support of a government that doesn’t take decisive action to combat such evil. This bill won’t stop all violence against women and girls in Afghanistan, but my hope is that we can maintain a spotlight on this issue and do all we can to preserve the safety and rights of this incredibly at-risk group.”

“As someone who has served on the ground in the Middle East, I’m keenly aware of the need to protect the rights of women and girls – particularly in Afghanistan,” said Senator Ernst. “I’m hopeful this bipartisan bill sends a message to anyone who wishes to do harm to innocent women and girls – that the United States will not tolerate their despicable behavior.”

What the Protect Women’s and Girls’ Rights in Afghanistan Act does:

  • The legislation establishes a policy that economic aid will not be provided to the Afghan government if minimum standards of treatment for women and girls – including health care, education and access to employment – aren’t upheld.
  • The bill also calls for all Afghan nationals who violate basic rights of women, including murder and grievous domestic violence, to be prosecuted for their crimes.
  • In order to track the conditions that women and girls are experiencing in Afghanistan, the bill requires a twice-yearly State Department assessment of how they are treated, as well as actions taken by the Taliban to secure the rights of women and girls.

Senators Feinstein and Ernst will continue to seek broad, bipartisan support for this legislation in the coming weeks as the United States nears its withdrawal date. Bill text is available here.