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The Invisible Women of Afghanistan

Females may not work outside the home, leave home without being accompanied by a male family member, go to school, receive medical care from male medical personnel or seek medical care without being accompanied by a male relative. Women may not use birth control. A woman has no legal rights and may seek legal action only if a male family member represents her. All cultural and sports institutions are closed to women.

Discrimination? Segregation? Sexual apartheid? These terms all seem inadequate to describe the total abrogation of women’s basic human rights, according to Daor, who writes based on information supplied by RAWA, a group of revolutionary Afghani women refugees in Pakistan.

The Taliban, an extreme fundamentalist group, bases these restrictions on its understanding of Muslim law or shaaria. The Taliban continues to battle other Muslim fundamentalists since the 1989 routing of the Soviet-backed communist regime, which had been in power since 1978. Since 1994 the Taliban has reigned over 80% of Afghanistan.

The egregious treatment of women in this ravaged country—which has expelled many of the non-governmental organizations that sought to feed and care for the needy there—is now the subject of a worldwide public opinion campaign. It is hoped that the Taliban regime, which seeks UN recognition as well as trading partners, will succumb to world pressure to grant women their basic human rights.