The Taliban government of Afghanistan is waging a war upon its women.
The plight of women in Afghanistan under the Taliban rule

The women in Afghanistan have suffered unspeakable horrors under the rule of the Fundamentalist Taliban.  Several organizations have been formed to help.  The commentary below was originally posted here at the suggestion of a talk radio listener named "Mina" in the fall of 1998.  Since the "War against Terror" was launched after the Attack on September 11, 2001 the media has finally expended substantial effort in covering this story.

One of those organizations, RAWA, has a website dedicated to its martyred leader coincidentally named Meena.

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Page created, Fall 1998
Updated, Fall 2001

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Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan is a political/social organization of Afghan women struggling for peace, freedom, democracy and women's rights in fundamentalism-blighted Afghanistan.

Below are 2 pictures from RAWA demonstrating the suffering of women in Afghanistan.

A victim of the fundamentalists infighting War victim

Original commentary posted to Philly Talk Radio Online in the fall of 1998

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 skyrocketing 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 education 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 (??? something missing ???) 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 in parts of Africa, that blacks in the US 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 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.
Originally posted by,
Andre L. Vanderhal MD, Neonatologist
Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA Associate Professor of
UCLA School of Medicine
Other Contacts
Mary Robinson,
High Commissioner,
Angela King,
Special Advisor on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, UN,

F.A.Q. - Frequently Asked Questions...

What is a burqua (burqa)?
The burqua is a garment that covers women from head to toe, the heavy gauze patch across the eyes makes it hard to see, and completely blocks peripheral vision.  Technically it is only the head veil, as listed on Islamic clothing supply sites, but it generally now refers to the entire head to toe outfit.  Each portion of that has its own specific term like the hand and forearm gauntlets used to cover the arms.  The burqua is mandated by law and costs the average woman 4 to 6 months salary, but remember ... they are not allowed to work!  They cannot ever leave the house without one.

When did the Taliban take control of Afghanistan?
They started in 1994 and took Kabul, the capital, in September 1996.

What was it like for women before the Taliban?
Women held a wide variety of jobs just like in other countries including owning their own businesses and highly skilled jobs like Doctors.  They were active in local government and able to travel at will.

Why does the Taliban insist that women be confined in their homes?
The minister of education has said, "It's like having a flower, or a rose. You water it and keep it at home for yourself, to look at it and smell it. It [a woman] is not supposed to be taken out of the house to be smelled." Another Taliban leader is less poetic: "There are only two places for Afghan women, in her husband's house, and in the graveyard."

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