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Note: The following are outdated alerts provided by WFF. For more current information on this issue, please see the Feminist Majority's Stop Gender Apartheid in Afganistan! section on the web and Feminist.com's Fall 2000 "Take Action!" Alert.


When Queen Noor was recently barred from attending her husband's funeral by Muslim tradition, we were all reminded of the way religions worldwide marginalize women. The Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime in Afghanistan bars girls from going to school, women from working, and females from going out in public without a male relative. When they do go out, they must wear burqa, an oppressive garment that covers the entire body, with a small piece of mesh through which to see and breathe. The Taliban influence has now spread across the Afghan border to Pakistan, where women are being intimidated and threatened. The Islamic fundamentalist government of Sudan has also imposed a Taliban-like dress code on women and will deploy police to insure that it is being observed. Women worldwide must mobilize to oppress this war on women's rights. The Feminist Majority's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid was given a major push a few weeks ago when Jay and Mavis Leno donated $100,000 to the campaign. You can help by joining the campaign as a co-sponsor (888-93-WOMEN), and wearing the symbol of remembrance - a small swatch of mesh material representing the burqa. The symbol is only $2.00 - half the proceeds go directly to Afghan women, and the other half goes to build the campaign. To learn how you can do more, contact the Feminist Majority at 703-522-2219 or see the Feminist Majority's Stop Gender Apartheid in Afganistan! section on the web.

April 28, 1998

We reported last week (see below) that U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson was bound for Afghanistan with a strong message for the Taliban militia: begin peace negotiations, and restore human rights for women -- or no recognition as a legitimate government. The Taliban did agree to enter into peace negotiations, but Richardson made little headway on the rights of women. In a classic, "unclear on the concept," the Taliban agreed to let women into all-female universities in the future, but would not discuss letting girls attend school. (According to the Associated Press, the Taliban recently punished a teenage girl for walking with a man she was not related to by administering 100 lashes in front of a crowd of 20,000 in a sports amphitheater.) News reports indicated that our government may be willing to sacrifice women's rights for overall peace in the region. This thinking MUST be stopped before peace talks begin next week. Women must bombard President Clinton (202-456-1414; fax 202-456-2461), Secretary of State Albright (202-647-5298; fax 202-647-7120), and Ambassador Richardson (212-415-4407; fax 212-415-4443) with a strong message of our own: Peace without restoration of women's rights in unacceptable, period.
( WFF 4/24/98)

For more on this issue, please see the:

April 17, 1998

U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson is on a tour of South Asia this week. His stops include Kabul, stronghold of the most female-repressive regime on earth -- the Taliban militia. The Taliban have forced women to wear head-to-toe coverings, made girls quit school and women quit work. Women are prisioners in their homes (windows painted black), and have been stoned for going out without a male relative. Richardson is delivering a stern message that they will not gain recognition or aid, and that a proposed gas pipeline built by U.S. based Unocal will not go through as long as the persecution of women and girls continues. This strong stand is no doubt due to the activism of U.S. women, because our government seemed poised to recognize the Taliban when they took over. Reinforce Richardson's resolve and tell the administration to hang tough on the Taliban at fax 212-415-4443. U.S. Mission to the U.N., 799 UN Plaza, New York, NY 10017-3505.

Feb 27, 1998

Representatives Carolyn Maloney (R-NY) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) are calling on colleagues in the House to sign on to a declaration against the oppressive Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Citing the Taliban's gender apartheid whereby women and girls are virtually imprisoned in their homes, the declaration calls for (1) witholding recognition of the Taliban as Afghanistan's government, (2) insuring humanitarian aid is available for Afghan women, and (3) applying pressure to insure the rights of Afghan women. Maloney and Rohrabacher are asking for signatures on the declaration, to be presented to Congress on March 8. Next week is the last chance for your Representative to sign on the dotted line. Urge Reps. (202-225-3121 or send e-mail) to sign on-by calling Maggie McDow in Representative Maloney's office at 202-225-7944.

January 23 , 1998

WFF has been reporting on the abuses of women in Afghanistan by the government since the Taliban takeover in 1996. The Taliban bars girls from school. Women are prohibited from working, must be completely covered to go out in public, and cannot even wear "shoes that make noise," because men might be disturbed. If you think this kind of stuff can only happen in other countries, think again. Last week in Virginia, the Charlotte County school board voted to allow Muslim parents to keep their daughters out of school for religious reasons. Parents said they want to shield the girls from skimpy clothes common in public schools, and they believe it is more important for boys to get an education because "the man will be the provider...and he needs a very good education." Unlike other home-schooling, there is no state oversight of home-taught curriculum, testing, or teaching standards in religious exemption cases. This is possible because Virginia law allows it. Tell Governor James Gilmore III (804-786-2211 [option 1]; fax: 804-371-6351) that this oppressive situation must be remedied. If you need talking points call Northern Virginia NOW, 703-425-0665; fax 703-323-1869; e-mail [email protected]

August 8, 1997

Since the Taliban militia captured the capitol of Afghanistan in September of last year, women and girls have been severely oppressed (WFF 11/96). They are barred from work, school, and even walking the streets without a male relative. Women are also forced to wear head-to-toe covering (including mesh over the eyes), and some have been stoned to death. The U.S. Department of State has not yet recognized the Taliban as the official government, nor have they been granted a U.N. seat. But pressure is mounting every day because Afghanistan is crucial to moving oil reserves, and many countries and their corporations (including the U.S. and Unocal) want to control a pipeline that will traverse the country. The Feminist Majority is coordinating a national campaign to keep the U.S. from recognizing a government that may be the world's most oppressive for women. Organizations and individuals are asked to sign on to a resolution to end gender apartheid in Afghanistan, and to sign on to a letter to President Clinton in favor of restoring women's human rights. Get copies of both from Jyotsa Sreenivasan at 703-522-2214; fax 703-522-2219, or see the Feminist Majority's "Take Action" Alert.

October 11 , 1996

The abuse of women in Afghanistan continued unabated this week, with Taliban militia members enforcing a ban on girl's schooling, barring women from working or venturing out unaccompanied by a male relative, and insisting that women be completely covered, seeing only through thick mesh. Despite these abuses, word has it that the U.S. State Department considers these "women's issues" to be "secondary" to their priority for peace. News reports say our tax dollars may be used to re-open the U.S. Embassy. The Secretary General of the U.N. has decried Afghanistan's action as contrary to the U.N. charter, which is morally and legally binding on all U.N. members. The U.S. Ambassador must be urged to bring pressure on the U.S. State Department to elevate the women's plight as a primary consideration for achieving long-term peace. Contact the Ambassador at 202-736-7555 or 212-415-4000; fax 202-736-7551 or 212-415-4053. You can also send e-mail through the U.S. Mission at [email protected]

October 8 , 1996

"It is so sad, and so demoralizing," said the physician, who insisted that she not be identified.

"In Russia and the United States, women are being launched into Space, but here in Afghanistan, women are being told that they have no place but the home. It is a primitive thing." New York Times, 10/4/96.

Update: United Nations, Oct. 7 "In an unusual step for an organization that often tries to avoid collisions over human rights, Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali warned the new Islamic rulers in Afghanistan today that the United Nations objects to the extreme discrimination they practice against women. He warned of 'serious reprecussions' for the foreign aid program there." New York Times, 10/8/96.

October 4 , 1996

Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 30 "In the four days since Kabul fell to Taliban militias...girl's schools have been closed while clerics, known as mullahs, study the 'issue' of education for females. Women with jobs have been told to stay home, and ordered when venturing out to wear a full 'chaderi,' a gown that covers a woman from head to toe, allowing her to see only through a tightly woven face mask. Taliban fighters stopped women on Kabul streets and beat them ... accusing them of not covering their entire bodies." - New York Times 10/1/96.

"Women working as doctors and nurses have been granted exemptions...The Taliban also realize that they will need large amounts of foreign aid (to rebuild the country), most of it from Western countries." - New York Times, 10/2/96.

If you think this is an outrage, and don't want your tax dollars spent on this type of oppression of women, contact your member of Congress while they're at home on recess running for re-election. (202-225-3121; or identify your senators or representatives by zip code) Also protest to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (202-224-4651; 202-224-0836). Staff work right through the election and hold correspondence for the next Congress.

November 22 , 1996

UPDATE: Even though the U.S. State Department has backed off support for the Taliban rebels who are imprisoning women and girls in their homes in Afghanistan ( WFF 10/96), the Taliban continue to crush women's rights. Global activists are concerned that the U.S. will move toward support for this oppressive anti-woman regime now that our elections are over. Keep the pressure on by contacting the White House (202-456-1111; fax 202-456-2461; E-MAIL [email protected]). ( WFF 11/22/96)

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