Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

War on Women

Written by Rev. H.A. Bergsma
Madu, the government of Afghanistan, is waging a fearful war on women. Since the Taliban took power in 1996, women are required to be entirely covered, and are mistreated and stoned if not dressed correctly É even if the opening through which they see is not or insufficiently closed. One woman was beaten to death by an ÒhonourableÓ group of Taliban-fundamentalists for accidentally exposing her arm while riding in an automobile. 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 for pay or even go out in public without a male relative. Professional women such as teachers, translators, doctors, lawyers, artists and writers have been forced to give up their vocation. Each house, occupied by a woman, must have its windows painted so that she cannot be seen from the outside. Women are required to wear shoes with soft soles so that they will not be heard as they walk.

Women live in constant fear of losing their lives for the slightest transgression of the laws imposed on them. Because they may not work, those without male relatives or husbands are forced to endure starvation or to beg, even if they may have had a good education. The number of depression-cases among women has reached alarming levels. Although it is impossible to discover the exact number of suicides in such an extreme Islamic society, relief workers estimate that the suicide rate among women is very high. There is no proper medication or treatment available for those suffering from severe depression, and the number of those who would rather take their lives than live in such conditions, has increased significantly

There are almost no medical facilities available for women. At one of the hospitals for women (a rare thing in itself), a reporter found nearly lifeless ÒbodiesÓ lying in beds, unresponsive and emotionless, unwilling to speak or eat. Life was slowly but certainly ebbing away from them. Others have become psychological wrecks and were seen, scared, crouched in corners, perpetually rocking themselves or simply crying. One doctor has considered leaving these women in front of the president's residence as a form of protest, when the little medication that is left finally runs out. ÒWe are at the point where a claim upon the term Ôviolation of human rightsÕ has become senseless.Ó

Husbands have the power of life and death over their wives and their female relatives. Any group of men with evil intentions also has the right to beat a woman (often resulting in death), simply for exposing a bit of skin or for suspecting her of the least provocation.

The speed by which the laws have been implemented since the Taliban came into power is, no doubt, the main reason for the depression and suicide amongst women. Women who once laboured as educators or as doctors in a hospital, or who were simply accustomed to basic human freedoms, are now severely restricted and treated as lower-than-humans. All of this is due to the influence of the right-wing fundamentalist Taliban, in the name of Islam. (Translated from a statement circulated by email, protesting the inhumane treatment of women in Afghanistan)

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