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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

August-05-98

Report Reveals Firsthand Accounts of Afghan Women's Health Under the Taliban Regime

Physicians for Human Rights has published a report, "The Taliban's War on Women," that details first-hand accounts of the everyday impact of the militant regime's policies concerning the health, well-being, and economic survival of their female citizens.

The report said that the prohibition against women working has driven many to destitution and begging. "As a widow, I have no support system in this society, and I am about to lose my mind," said one woman interviewed for the report. Another said, "[The Taliban] took away the only thing that kept me from losing my mind [after my husband's death]-- my job and my income. I lost my income, my future, and almost my sanity."

The report also described the emotional and physical terrorism under which Afghan women live. One women said, "My mother's aunt, an elderly woman, was flogged by a Taliban militia member because her ankle was showing. She was beaten with a metal cable, and her leg was broken." "Any slight divergence from the dress code results in beating," said another woman. "We live in terror."

Women's fear of being beaten discourages them from seeking health care, the authors concluded. One mother could not take her daughter to the hospital when she had stomach pains because she did not own a burqa, the required full-body covering. As a result, the 20-year-old daughter suffered for days before she died.

Last September, all hospitals in Kabul were ordered to suspend service to the city's half-million female population, excluding one clinic without running water, electricity, surgical equipment, x-ray machines, or oxygen. The Taliban rescinded some of these regulations after talks with the Red Cross, but women continue to receive inadequate care.

Physicians for Human Rights urged all humanitarian aid providers to overcome barriers to humanitarian aid for women and make Afghanistan aid a priority. The also called for further examination of corporations that support the Taliban by investing in Afghanistan's gas and oil reserves. Such groups include UNOCAL in California and Bridas in Argentina.


Media Resources: The Washington Post - August 5, 1998


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