Ms. Magazine

spring 2003
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Features
The Feminist To-Do List by Gloria Steinem
Ms. Poll Feminist Tide Sweeps In as the 21st Century Begins by Lorraine Dusky
Affirmative Action on Trial by Teresa Stern
Women on Death Row by Claudia Dreifus
In the Thick of Life at 70 by Jessica Chornesky

Special Action Alert
Women Take Action Worldwide
Listing: Coalitions and Groups
National Council of Women's Organizations Statement on War with Iraq
NCWO Partial Members List
Why Peace is (More Than Ever) a Feminist Issue
by Grace Paley

Writing of War and Its Consequences
Ghosts of Home by Patricia Sarrafian Ward
Tales from an Ordinary Iranian Girlhood by Marjane Satrapi
Snow in Summer: LA, CA, 1963 by Helen Zelon

News
Pat Summitt's 800th Victory
Augusta Golf Club's Red Face
National Map of Priest Abuse
Women Warriors
Lesbians with Strollers
Kopp Trial
Trouble in Herat, Afghanistan
Reproductive Rights in Poland
Health Clinics in Guatemala
Congolese Women for Peace
Global Good News Round-Up
The Opposite of a Nuclear Bomb

Departments
Lower Breast Cancer Risks by Liz Galst
The Making of an Activist by Gloria Feldt
Nature Conservancy Gains by Rachel Rabkin
Harvard Stumbles on Rape Rules by Lorraine Dusky
The Bush Overhaul of Federal Courts by Stephanie B. Goldberg
My Friend Yeshi by Alice Walker

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Alissa J. Rubin, Balkans bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, did three reporting tours in Afghanistan in 2002.


Trouble in Herat
Women's Rights Assailed Anew
By Alissa J. Rubin

Punitive Policies. Herat Governor Ismail Khan meets with teachers. Photo by Behrouz Mehri/AFP.

Although girls' schools are functioning in Herat, women at university are generally banned from attending classes with men and fewer than a dozen have higher level government jobs, according to Human Rights Watch. Khan discourages women from working for international aid organizations and has forbidden women in such jobs to shake hands with Westerners.

While the situation is particularly bad in Herat, it is hardly unique. In Kabul last summer nearly 30 women were imprisoned for such "crimes" as running away from an abusive husband, or having sought to marry someone they loved rather than the spouse chosen by their parents.

The wives of most government ministers-- including Hamid Karzai's wife, who is a doctor-- are never seen in public and even women government officials still say they feel "safer" wearing a burqa when they walk outdoors.

The Taliban ministry for virtue and vice has been reconstituted and last summer a policy began of cracking down on brides and bridegrooms celebrating any part of their weddings together.

Human Rights Watch advocates many steps for Khan, including the repeal of all policies that violate the human rights of women and girls, in particular rights to freedom of expression, association, and movement. It recommends that Karzai and his government work with international donors to ensure reconstruction funds do not directly benefit leaders like Khan and that they investigate abuses.

However, the international community also has leverage and should use it, say HRW officials. The UN needs to put more human rights monitors on the ground, and they need more resources. Funds shoudl be cut off to warlords like Khan who implement repressive measures toward women and girls. And there needs to be far more direct support-- both financial and political-- for Afghanistan's Ministry of Women's Affairs and Human RIghts Commission so those organizations can support women in areas such as Herat.

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Take Action

* Urge Congress to Appropriate Funds for Expanded Peace Troops, Women's Programs and Reconstruction in Afghanistan
In a major victory for Afghan women and US women's rights organizations last year, Congress passed, and the President signed, the Afghan Freedom Support Act of 2002 authorizing $2.3 billion for reconstruction and humanitarian assistance over four years and $1 billion over 2 years for expansion of international peace keeping forces. Although the Act passed with unanimous bi-partisan support and President Bush signed it into law, the Administration’s budget requests and Congressional appropriations have fallen far short of what the Act authorizes and what is needed to rebuild the country and restore women's rights.

* Join FM's Afghanistan Action Update Email
Take action, learn the progress of our Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls, and stay informed with stories about Afghanistan from the Feminist News.

* Contribute to FM's Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls
Afghan girls are finally allowed back to school. However, they still face an uncertain future without adequate security or funding for their health and education. Because of the devastating situation for Afghan women and girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan, we have broadened the mission of our former Back to School Campaign in order to address not only the need for educational opportunities for Afghan women and girls, but also their health needs and the dire conditions in the region. Form an action team today and help women and girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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