The Taliban's War on Women

Subject: The Taliban's War on Women
From: christophe charles (
Date: Sat Jan 16 1999 - 05:49:43 EST

fwd / sorry for doubles

The Taliban's War on Women:

The government of Afghanistan is waging a war upon women. The situation is
getting so bad that one person in an editorial of the times compared the
treatment of women there to the treatment of Jews in pre-Holocaust Poland.
Since the Taliban took power in 1996, women have
had to wear burqua and have been beaten and stoned in public for not having
the proper attire, even if this means simply not having the mesh covering
in front of their eyes. One woman was beaten to DEATH by an
angry mob of fundamentalists for accidentally exposing her arm while she
was driving. Another was stoned to death for trying to leave the country
with a man that was not a relative. Women are not allowed to
work or even go out in public without a male relative; professional women
such as professors, translators, doctors, lawyers, artists and writers have
been forced from their jobs and stuffed into their homes,
so that depression is becoming so widespread that it has reached emergency

  There is no way in such an extreme Islamic society to know the suicide
rate with certainty, but relief workers are estimating that the suicide
rate among women, who cannot find proper medication and treatment for
severe depression and would rather take their lives than live in such
conditions, has increased significantly. Homes where a woman is present
must have their windows painted so that she can never be seen by outsiders.
They must wear silent shoes so that they are never heard.
Women live in fear of their lives for the slightest misbehavior. Because
they cannot work, those without male relatives or husbands are either
starving to death or begging on the street, even if they hold Ph.D.'s.
There are almost no medical facilities available for women, and relief
workers, in protest, have mostly left the country, taking medicine and
psychologists and other things necessary to treat the sky-rocketing level
of depression among women.

  At one of the rare hospitals for women, a reporter found still, nearly
lifeless bodies lying motionless on top of beds, wrapped in their burqua,
unwilling to speak, eat, or do anything, but slowly wasting away. Others
have gone mad and were seen crouched in corners,perpetually rocking or
crying, most of them in fear. One doctor is
considering, when what little medication that is left finally runs out,
leaving these women in front of the president's residence as a form of
peaceful protest. It is at the point where the term 'human rights
violations' has become an understatement. Husbands have the power of life
and death over their women relatives, especially their wives, but an angry
mob has just as much right to stone or beat a woman, often to death, for
exposing an inch of flesh or offending them in the slightest

  David Cornwell has told me that we in the United States should not judge
the Afghan people for such treatment because it is a 'cultural thing', but
this is not even true. Women enjoyed relative freedom, to work, dress
generally as they wanted, and drive and appear in public
alone until only 1996 -- the rapidity of this transition is the main reason
for the depression and suicide; women who were once educators or doctors or
simply used to basic human freedoms are now severely restricted and treated
as sub-human in the name of right-wing
fundamentalist Islam. It is not their tradition or 'culture', but is alien
to them, and it is extreme even for those cultures where fundamentalism
is the rule. Besides, if we could excuse everything on cultural grounds,
then we should not be appalled that the Carthaginians sacrificed their
infant children, that little girls are circumcised in parts of Africa, that
blacks in the deep south in the 1930's were
lynched, prohibited from voting, and forced to submit to unjust Jim Crow

  Everyone has a right to a tolerable human existence, even if they are
women in a Muslim country in a part of the world that Americans do not
understand. If we can threaten military force in Kosovo in the name of
human rights for the sake of ethnic Albanians, Americans can certainly
express peaceful outrage at the oppression, murder and injustice committed
against women by the Taliban.


  In signing this, we agree that the current treatment of women in
Afghanistan is completely UNACCEPTABLE and deserves support and action by
the people of the United States and the U.S. Government and that the
current situation overseas will not be tolerated. Women's Rights is not a
small issue anywhere and it is UNACCEPTABLE for women in 1998 to be treated
as sub-human and so much as property. Equality and human decency
is a RIGHT not a freedom, whether one lives in Afghanistan or the United

  1) Leslie London, Cape Town, South Africa
  2) Tim Holtz, Boston, MA
  3) Joyce Millen, Cambridge, MA
  4) Diane Millen, Falls Church, Va.
  5) Bill Millen, Falls Church, Va.
  6) Milt Eisner, McLean VA
  7) Harriet Solomon, Springfield, VA
  8) Arlene Silikovitz, West Orange, NJ
  9) Susanna Levin, New Rochelle, NY
10) Ruth Slater, New Rochelle,NY
11) Elisabeth Keane, Westport, CT
12) Mercedes Lopez-Morgan, Chappaqua, NY
13) Pete Morgan, Chappaqua, NY
14) Aaron Cela, Chappaqua, NY
15) Michelle Lee, San Francisco, CA
16) Karen Muiter, San Mateo, CA
17) Nate Walker, North Hills, CA
18) Jasmyn Hatam San Jose, CA
19) Brigette Young, Los Angeles, CA
20) Rebecca Kniss, Chico, CA
21) Sarah Hayman, Whittier, CA
22) Kendra Dole-Stoll, Salem, OR
23) Robert L. Tolar, Portland, OR
24) Lisa Cramer, Providence, RI
25) Kristi Rudelius-Palmer, Minneapolis, MN
26) Charmaine Crockett, Brooklyn, New York
27) Anne Hemenway, New York, New York
28) Ned Rothenberg. Brooklyn, NY

**** Please sign to support, and include your town. Then
copy and e-mail to as many people as possible. If you receive this list
with more than 50 names on it, please e-mail a copy of it to

  Even if you decide not to sign, please be considerate and do not kill
the petition. Thank you. It is best to copy rather than forward the

  Melissa Buckheit
  Brandeis University

Lisa Cramer
Senior Research Officer
x 7395

Misako Kano
(Please notice that address and URL has been partially changed;
"or" is replaced with "ne")
Refer to my Home Page for further information

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