Patrice Riemens on Fri, 22 Jan 1999 15:04:21 +0100 (CET)

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nettime-nl: The Taliban's War on Women (fwd)

Dit is een protest petitie betreffende de situatie in Afghanistan. 'Het
lijkt de taliban wel' is een gevleugelde uitdrukking geworden om de
positie van vrouwen in cyberspace initiatieven te omschrijven, althans in
Frans-talige landen.  Maar de werkelijkheid in Afghanistan is uiteraard
nog veel gruwelijker...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 16:42:07 +0000
From: Alexandre Iordachescu <>
Subject: The Taliban's War on Women

The Taliban's War on Women:

**** Please sign at the bottom to support, and include your town. Then
copy and e-mail to as many people as possible.

If you  receive  this list with more than 50 names on it, please
e-mail a copy of it to

 Even if you decide not to sign, please be considerate and do not kill
the petition. Thank you.  It is best to copy rather than forward the

Melissa Buckheit Brandeis University



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 told me that we in the United States 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 drive and appear in public
alone until only 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 name 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 in parts of Africa, that blacks in the deep south in the
1930's were lynched, prohibited from voting, and forced to submit to
unjust Jim Crow 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 Americans do not
understand. If we can threaten military force in Kosovo in the name of
human rights for the sake of ethnic Albanians, Americans can certainly
express peaceful out-írage at the oppression, murder and injustice
committed against women by the Taliban.

************ STATEMENT:

In signing this, we agree that the current treatment of women in
Afghanistan is completely UNACCEPTABLE and deserves support and action
by the people of the United States and other countries and their
Governments and 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 1998 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 the United States.*****

1) Leslie London, Cape Town, South Africa
2) Tim Holtz, Boston, MA
3) Joyce Millen, Cambridge, MA
4) Diane Millen, Falls Church, Va.
5) Bill Millen, Falls Church, Va.
6) Milt Eisner, McLean VA
7) Harriet Solomon, Springfield, VA
8) Arlene Silikovitz, West Orange, NJ
9) Susanna Levin, New Rochelle, NY
10) Rabbi Gary Greene, Framingham, MA
11) Danny Siegel, Rockville, MD
12) Rabbi Neal Gold, Highland Park, NJ
13) Aimee Sousa, Highland Park, NJ
14) James Sousa, Highland Park, NJ
15) Peter Tatiner, Highland Park, NJ
16) Roberta Elins, New York, NY
17) Margaux Baran, Ne wYork, NY
18) Stephanie Donohue, New York, NY
19) Debbie Russ, NYC
20) Ariel Yan, NYC
21) Erin Burns, NYC
22) Jenny Laden, NYC
23) Daedre Levine, NYC
24) Tina Stoll, Bethesda, Maryland
25) Karen Mulhauser, Washington, DC
26) Karen Seiger, Washington, DC
27) Torie Keller, Silver Spring, MD
28) Larissa Yocum, Washington, D.C.
29) Matthijs den Otter, Enschede, The Netherlands.
30) Elske Leenders, Enschede, The Netherlands
31) Rijanne Assen, Enschede, The Netherlands
32) Tiemen Jan Bos, Enschede, The Netherlands
32) Boukelien Bos, Emmen, The Netherlands
33) Frank van Schaik, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
34) Lisette de Boer, Delft, The Netherlands
35) Metha de Vries, Utrecht, The Netherlands
36) Sergio Oceransky, Oviedo, Spain
37) Alexandre Iordachescu, Geneva, Switzerland
38) Patrice Riemens, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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