Monday, 22 October 2012

Gender Apartheid

The Taliban & Afghan Women

On September 27, 1996, the Taliban, an extremist militia, seized control of the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, and violently plunged the occupied territories of Afghanistan into a brutal state of gender apartheid in which women and girls have been stripped of their basic human rights.
"If this was happening to any other class of people around the world, there would be a tremendous outcry. We must make sure these same standards are applied when it is women and girls who are brutally treated." -Eleanor Smeal, President, FMF.
Gender Apartheid - The Elimination of Women's Rights
Upon seizing power, the Taliban instituted a system of gender apartheid effectively thrusting the women of Afghanistan into a state of virtual house arrest. Under Taliban rule women have been stripped of their visibility, voice, and mobility. When they took control in 1996, the Taliban initially imposed strict edicts that:
Banished women from the work force
Closed schools to girls in cities and expelled women from universities
Prohibited women from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a close male relative
Ordered the publicly visible windows of women's houses painted black and forced women to wear the burqa (or chadari) - which completely shrouds the body, leaving only a small mesh-covered opening through which to see
Prohibited women and girls from being examined by male physicians while at the same time, prohibited most female doctors and nurses from working. (Currently there are a few, selected female doctors allowed to operate in segregated wards.)
Women were brutally beaten, publicly flogged, and killed for violating Taliban decrees. Even after international condemnation, the Taliban made only slight changes. Some say it was progress when the Taliban allowed a few women doctors and nurses to work, even while hospitals still had segregated wards for women; that in Kabul and other cities, a few home schools for girls were allowed to operate, although only in secret. In addition, women who conducted home schools were risking their lives or a severe beating. But the overall reality of the tragic plight of Afghan women and girls remained virtually unchanged.
The early 2002 defeat of the Taliban liberated Afghan women and girls from the regime's draconian decrees. The world witnessed reports of women in Mazar-e-Sharif, Kabul, and other cities going into the streets without male relatives and discarding their burqas--actions that would have garnered brutal punishments under the Taliban.
However, the international community must now act to ensure that women's rights are fully and permanently restored, and to reestablish a constitutional democracy in Afghanistan that is representative of women and ethnic minorities.

Gender Apartheid - The Reality of Women and Girls
A woman who defied Taliban orders by running a home school for girls was killed in front of her family and friends.
A woman caught trying to flee Afghanistan with a man not related to her was stoned to death for adultery.
An elderly woman was brutally beaten with a metal cable until her leg was broken because her ankle was accidentally showing from underneath her burqa.
Women have died of curable ailments because male doctors were not allowed to treat them.
Two women accused of prostitution were publicly hung.
Taliban Law Is In Opposition To Islam
Prior to the Civil War and Taliban control, especially in Kabul, the capital, women in Afghanistan were educated and employed: 50% of the students and 60% of the teachers at Kabul University were women, and 70% of school teachers, 50% of civilian government workers, and 40% of doctors in Kabul were women.
The Taliban claim to follow a pure, fundamentalist Islamic ideology, yet the oppression they perpetrate against women has no basis in Islam. Within Islam, women are allowed to earn and control their own money, and to participate in public life. The 55-member Organization of Islamic Conference has refused to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan's official government. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, regarded by many as an ultraconservative organization, has denounced the Taliban's decrees.
Who are the Taliban?
During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980's the United States through a CIA covert operation based in Pakistan supplied billions of dollars to support insurgent militia forces called the mujahideen (soldiers of God). Following the Soviets' withdrawal in 1989, factions of the mujahideen fell into a civil war and in 1994, the Taliban emerged as a dominant force.
The Taliban is comprised of young men and boys of Afghan descent who have hardly lived in Afghan society. They were raised in refugee camps and trained in ultraconservative religious schools (madrasahs) in Pakistan. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates are the only countries that have granted the Taliban official recognition.
In addition, thousands of Pakistanis and hundreds or Arabs fight alongside the Taliban. Pakistan is the primary source of support to the Taliban, supplying military aid and personnel; Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and known terrorist organizations provide the Taliban with financial support. Additionally, Afghanistan is the one of the world's two largest producers of opium and a major drug-processing center; almost all areas of poppy cultivation are occupied by the Taliban. But perhaps the biggest potential for financial support lies in the petroleum industry.