The government of Afghanistan is waging a war upon women. The situation is getting so bad that one person in an editorial of the Times compared the treatment of women there to the treatment of Jews in pre-Holocaust Poland.
Since the Taliban took power in 1996, women have had to wear burqua and have been beaten and stoned in public for not having the proper attire, even if this means simply not having the mesh covering in front of their eyes.
One woman was beaten to death by an angry mob of fundamentalists for accidentally exposing her arm while she was driving. Another was stoned to death for trying to leave the country with a man that was not a relative.
Women are not allowed to work or even go out in public without a male relative; professional women such as professors, translators, doctors, lawyers, artists and writers have been forced from their jobs and stuffed into their homes, so that depression is becoming so widespread that it has reached emergency levels.
There is no way in such an extreme Islamic society to know the suicide rate with certainty, but relief workers are estimating that the suicide rate among women, who cannot find proper medication and treatment for severe depression and would rather take their lives than live in such conditions, has increased significantly.
Homes where a woman is present must have their windows painted so that she can never be seen by outsiders. They must wear silent shoes so that they are never heard. Women live in fear of their lives for the slightest misbehavior.
Because they cannot work, those without male relatives or husbands are either starving to death or begging on the street, even if they hold Ph.D.'s.
There are almost no medical facilities available for women, and relief workers, in protest, have mostly left the country,taking medicine and psychologists and other things necessary to treat the sky-rocketing level of depression among women.
At one of the rare hospitals for women, a reporter found still, nearly lifeless bodies lying motionless on top of beds, wrapped in their burqua, unwilling to speak, eat, or do anything, but slowly wasting away.
Others have gone mad and were seen crouched in corners, perpetually rocking or crying, most of them in fear.
One doctor is considering, when what little medication that is left finally runs out, leaving these women in front of the president's residence as a form of peaceful protest. It is at the point where the term 'human rights violations' has become an understatement.
Husbands have the power of life and death over their women relatives, especially their wives,but an angry mob has just as much right to stone or beat a woman, often to death, for exposing an inch of flesh or offending them in the slightest way.
David Cornwell has said that those in the West should not judge the Afghan people for such treatment because it is a 'cultural thing', but this is not even true. Women enjoyed relative freedom, to work, dress generally as they wanted, and (???) 1996 - the rapidity of this transition is the main reason for the depression and suicide; women who were once educators or doctors or simply used to basic human freedoms are now severely restricted and treated as sub-human in the same of right-wing fundamentalist Islam.
It is not their tradition or 'culture', but is alien to them, and it is extreme even for those cultures where fundamentalism is the rule. Besides, if we could excuse everything on cultural grounds, then we should not be appalled that the Carthaginians sacrificed their infant children, that little girls are circumcised inparts of Africa, that blacks in the US deep south in the 1930's were lynched, prohibited from voting, and forced to submit to unjust JimCrow laws.
Everyone has a right to a tolerable human existence, even if they are women in a Muslim country in a part of the world that Westerners may not understand. If life can threaten military force in Kosovo in the name of human rights for the sake of ethnic Albanians, then NATO and the West can certainly express peaceful outrage at the oppression, murder and injustice committed against women by the Taliban.
Please sign to support the statement below, and include your town and country. Then copy and e-mail to as many people as possible.
In signing this, we agree that the current treatment of women in Afghanistan is completely UNACCEPTABLE. They deserve support and action by the people of the United Nations and promisses that the current situation in Afghanistan will not be tolerated.
Women's Rights is not a small issue anywhere and it is UNACCEPTABLE for women in 1999 to be treated as sub-human and so much as property.
Equality and human decency is a RIGHT not a freedom, whether one lives in Afghanistan or anywhere else.
Please e-mail a copy of it to: Mary Robinson,High Commissioner,UNHCHR, mailto:email@example.com
as well as to:
Angela King,Special Advisor on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, UN, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want your name to be added to the list underneath, send a mail to: mailto:email@example.com
Even if you decide not to sign, please be considerate and do not kill the petition.
Some women who already signed:
1) Patrick Ballin, Brighton, UK
2) Ben Ballin, Birmingham, UK
3) Jill Denham, Yeovil, UK
4) Ali Brownlie, Brighton, UK
5) Cathie Holden, Exeter, UK
6) Suniti Namjoshi
7) Elke Ruehl, Frankfurt, Germany
8) Birgit Albrecht, Frankfurt, Germany
9) Sabine Behrends, Germany
10) Ingrid Fuehrer, Germany
11) Jutta Willand, Frankfurt, Germany
12) Antje Vogdt, Paris, France
13) Barbara Bova, Naples, Florida
14) Ruth Cavin, White Plains NY
15) Serita Stevens, LA, Ca
16) Adrian Muller, Bristol, UK
17) Lauren Milne Henderson, Tuscany, Italy
20) Tim Hull, London,UK
21) Sven Holly Nullmeyer,Berlin, Germany
22) Bo Oliver Beckmann, Bremen, Germany
23) Thomas Grüne-Hincke, Bremen, Germany
24) Torsten Grüne, München, Germany
25) Beate Kunhardt, Berlin, Germany
26) Gernot Matzke, Berlin, Germany
26) Bodo Schmidt, Köln, Germany
27) Bodo Busch, Köln, Germany
28)Jürgen Fichter, Duisburg
29) Petra Lill, Düsseldorf
30) Ole Stilund Jeppesen, Copenhagen, Denmark
31) Lorna B. Ferrer, Philippines
32) Annie E. Geron, Philippines
33) Christina Pedersen, Copenhagen, Denmark
34) Berit J. Mortensen, Copenhagen, Denmark
35) Anne Marie J. Jensen, Tete, Mozambique
36)Jørgen Strange-Hansen, Maputo, Mozambique
37) Bente Topsøe-Jensen, Maputo, Mozambique
38) Birgitte Jallov, Maputo, Mozambique
39) Peter Haag, Maputo, Mozambique
40) Ella Jallov, Gudhjem, Denmark
41) Helge Ronning, Oslo, Norway
42) Arnt Maaso, Oslo, Norway
43) Hilde Bachmann, Oslo, Norway
44) Torun Høgvold, Oslo, Norway
45) Martin Hansen, Oslo, Norway
46) Elin Melby, Oslo, Norway
47)Tanja Auren, Oslo, Norway
48) Øydis Dale, Oslo, Norway
49) Gro Kværnå, Oslo, Norway
50) Line-Anne Hovdenakk, Oslo, Norway
The above was sent to LINK from
Irene L. Erhardt-Waestberg
U.S. Information Service (USIS)
American Embassy Oslo
N-0244 Oslo, Norway
Visit the USIS homepage at: http://www.usembassy.no