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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

March-09-98

International Women’s Day Focus on Afghanistan, Algeria

Women around the globe marked International Women’s Day by calling attention to human rights abuses against women in Afghanistan and Algeria.

European Union Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Emma Bonino led a campaign which urged all countries to deny recognition of the Taliban militia because of its horrendous treatment of women.

British Secretary of State for international development Clare Short joined Bonino by urging the international communities to “take a stand” against Afghanistan. “Discrimination against women is human rights abuse on a global scale and a major hindrance to the elimination of poverty,” said Short.

Women’s human rights are being systematically denied and abused by the Taliban militia group in Afghanistan, which has seized control of two-thirds of Afghanistan since 1994. Their goal is to construct a “100-percent Islamic government.”

The Taliban has prohibited women from working outside the home or attending school, from walking outside their homes without a husband, brother or father and requires that all women wear a burqa, a debilitating garment that covers the body from head-to-toe.

Intelligence sources in Pakistan have admitted to sending agents of the nations’ main spy agency into border areas of Pakistan and prompting Afghan refugees to create the Taliban, a militia group which would then join in Afghan’s civil war. The Pakistan spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, then assigned military advisers to the Taliban’s militia with United States officials’ knowledge.

“State Department officials distanced the United States from the Taliban after its fighters seized Kabul, hanged Afghanistan’s former communist ruler, Najibullah, and imposed restrictions on women,” reported the Washington Post.

Iran’s highest female official, Masoumeh Ebtekar, vice president for environmental affairs, spoke at a women’s assembly in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, a town outside Taliban rule. Ebtekar said, “your unbearable present status is eyed with deep concern by the Moslems all over the world .... Your sisters in the Islamic republic are taking measures to establish Islamic human rights of women in the world which will contribute to the improvement of the status of women and provide progress in all the areas for the Moslem communities around the world.”

Iran has said that it will not recognize the Taliban militia group as a legitimate government and has condemned the group as “medieval” in its practice of fundamental Islam.

Approximately 500 women attended a rally in the capital of Algeria, demanding that the Algerian government amend a new law that gives men power over women by awarding the home to the husband if the couple divorces and requiring that the wife obey the husbands’ parents.

Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan

Feminist News Stories on Afghanistan

Media Resources: Washington Post, Reuters - March 8/9, 1998


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