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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

July-21-98

Feminist Majority Leads Bi-Coastal Demonstration at UNOCAL Headquarters in Washington, DC & Los Angeles

Women Protest UNOCAL’s Negotiations With Taliban Regime in Afghanistan, Which Has Imprisoned Women at Home

Washington, DC and Los Angeles -- In response to continued news reports that California-based UNOCAL is going ahead with plans to build a gas pipeline through Afghanistan, where the Taliban regime has virtually imprisoned women and girls in their homes, the Feminist Majority led protests outside UNOCAL offices in Washington, DC and Los Angeles.
“We are here today to demand that UNOCAL cease all business dealings with the oppressive Taliban regime until women’s and girls’ full human rights have been restored,” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority. “The Taliban have banished women from almost all life activities -- work, school, and even the simple act of going outside alone. This horrific gender apartheid must be stopped.”

“If UNOCAL were to proceed, it will be doing nothing less than providing hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties to keep a brutal regime going -- funding the continued oppression of women,” said Kathy Spillar, Feminist Majority National Coordinator.

UNOCAL is the major partner of the CENTGAS consortium negotiating with the Taliban to build the pipeline. Other members of the consortium include Saudi Arabia’s Delta, and companies in Japan, Indonesia, Korea, and Pakistan. In May, for the first time, the full CENTGAS consortium met with the Taliban in Afghanistan. In addition, the Taliban recently joined together with their major opposition group in Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance, and CENTGAS to create a joint economic coalition which would help spur the construction of the gas pipeline. The cost of the pipeline has been estimated at two billion dollars. The Taliban regime stands to earn up to $150 million annually from the proposed pipeline.

Since the Taliban seized control of the Afghan capital, Kabul, in September of 1996, women and girls have been confined to darkened homes (windows must be painted opaque) and not allowed outside unless enveloped in a “burqa” from head to toe, with only a mesh opening to see through -- and even then only when accompanied by their husband, father, or son. Girls cannot go to school -- not even elementary school or home schools -- and women are barred from the workplace and from college.

Until two years ago women in Kabul were 50% of the university students, 70% of the teachers, and 40% of the doctors.

Girls at the state orphanage in Kabul have not been allowed outside since September of 1996, although the boys go outside every day to play. Women have been stoned, beaten, and shot for disobeying these prohibitions.

The Feminist Majority leads a Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan campaign which is supported by over 100 women’s, human rights, and Muslim groups, including: Feminist Majority, National Organization for Women, YWCA of the USA, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, North American Council of Muslim Women, Muslim Women's League, Women's Alliance for Peace and Human Rights in Afghanistan, Afghan Women's Association, National Council of Women's Organizations, American Nurse's Association, American Medical Women's Association, National Political Congress of Black Women, and National Women's Political Caucus.

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