After forcing the closure of the United Nations' "widows' bakeries" in the Afghanistan capital city of Kabul and thrusting thousands of Afghan women and their families into poverty and starvation, the Taliban militia has withdrawn the order. The Taliban initially shut down the U.N. subsidized bakeries because the militia has banned women from employment outside the home, including working with any U.N. agency or other aid organization. Outrage in Afghanistan and internationally forced the Taliban to reverse the decree. In response to the Taliban's reversal, a spokesperson for the U.N. World Food Program said, "We welcome this decision and we hope the ban on women's employment would be fully rescinded."
Taliban rulers have created "the world's worst human rights situation," said Sehar Saba, spokeswoman for the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan when speaking to the U.N. Subcommission on Human Rights in Geneva. Saba urged the United Nations to send peacekeeping forces to the war-torn country and impose sanctions on countries that recognize or aid the Taliban. Currently Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates do identify the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.
Because the Taliban is not recognized internationally as the country's official government, their plea to participate in the 2000 Sidney Olympic Games has been denied by the International Olympic Committee. The Taliban has suggested that the IOC is discriminating against them because they do not allow women to participate in sports and would not send female athletes to the Games.
Media Resources: Reuters; BBC; AP - August 18, 2000
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