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Gender apartheid in Afghanistan
Women denied basic human rights

[ ATTACK HOMEPAGE ] [ News and Views Board ]

October 02, 2001

All Woman writer

Women All Woman highlights the plight of these women, bewildered in a world of fundamentalist tyranny and gloom.

Under Taliban rule women have been stripped of their visibility, voice, and mobility. The regime imposed strict edicts that:

* Banished women from the work force

* Closed schools to girls in cities and expelled women from universities

* Prohibited women from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a close male relative

* Ordered the publicly visible windows of women's houses painted black and forced women to wear the burqa (or chadari) - which completely shrouds the body, leaving only a small mesh-covered opening through which to see

* Prohibited women and girls from being examined by male physicians while at the same time, prohibited most female doctors and nurses from working. (Currently there are a few, selected female doctors allowed to operate in segregated wards.) The reality of women and girls

Women have been brutally beaten, publicly flogged, and killed for violating Taliban decrees, and they are denied the right to legal recourse -- a woman's testimony is worth half a man's testimony and she cannot petition the court directly, this has to be done through a prescribed male member of her immediate family.

Recreational and sporting facilities for all women have been banned, women singers cannot sing. They cannot show their faces in public to male strangers. They cannot wear bright coloured clothing, or wear make-up. Virtual prisoners, they can only appear outside of their houses clad head to foot in shapeless bags called burqas, they do not have the right to raise their voices when talking in public, and they cannot laugh loud and the list goes on.

A woman who defied Taliban orders by running a home school for girls was killed in front of her family and friends. Another caught trying to flee Afghanistan with a man not related to her was stoned to death for adultery.

An elderly woman was brutally beaten with a metal cable until her leg was broken because her ankle was accidentally showing from underneath her burqa.

Women have died of curable ailments because male doctors were not allowed to treat them. Two women accused of prostitution were also publicly hung.

Even after international condemnation, the Taliban has made only slight changes. Some say it is progress that a few women doctors and nurses are working, even while hospitals still have segregated wards for women; that in Kabul and other cities, a few home schools for girls operate, although only in secret. In addition, women who conduct home schools are risking their lives or a severe beating. But the overall reality of the tragic plight of Afghan women and girls has remained virtually unchanged.

2000-2001 Jamaica Observer
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