London protesters to call for legal asylum route for Afghan women

Protesters will march from Park Lane to Westminster on Sunday

Protesters calling for a legal asylum route for Afghan women in the UK will march through the streets of central London on Sunday.

A coalition of groups have organised to march at 12pm from Park Lane to Westminster, where a rally and speeches will take place at Richmond Terrace. Times Radio presenter Ayesha Hazarika will be among speakers at the event.

The ‘march for freedom for Afghan women and girls’ is calling on the Government to establish a safe asylum and resettlement scheme for Afghan women at risk.

The Action for Afghanistan advocacy group said Afghan women face “draconian restrictions” and threats, violence and arrests are escalating since the Taliban reclaimed control of the country last year.

Women cannot work to support their families, girls’ secondary school education is banned and women are forced to wear the burqa, the group said.

Marchers will also be calling on Westminster to appoint a Special Envoy for Afghan women and girls and to take “measures with international partners to hold the Taliban to account for the curtailment of women’s rights and denying girls the right to education”.

Demonstrators are being encouraged to bring their own banners and Afghan flags or posters.

Afghan politician and women’s rights activist Fawzia Koofi tweeted on Saturday that the march “requests more than safe asylum”.

“It’s about [the] devastating situation of women, it’s about systemic discrimination and increased suppression of women by Taliban,” she said.

The Taliban have been condemned by the United Nations for banning Afghan women from public spaces like gyms, parks and funfairs.

Rules introduced earlier this month were designed to prevent the mixing of men and women at funfairs and play areas in Kabul.

Earleir this week, the Taliban said three women and eleven men were lashed in front of hundreds of spectators for “sins including adultery and robbery”.

A spokesman from the Ministry of Virtue and Vice said the ban was being introduced because people were ignoring gender segregation orders and that women were not wearing the required headscarf, or hijab.

The march in London comes as new Home Office figures show 143,377 people are still awaiting a decision on their asylum claim in the UK.

Campaigners described the asylum system as being in “complete disarray” and said the lengthy waiting times are “destroying lives”, while politicians claimed the Home Office is a “disaster zone”.

It comes as Home Secretary Suella Braverman set a target for caseworkers to make three decisions per week by May and an “ambition” to get to four.