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  • Jo Fulton
    PETITION FOR WOMEN S RIGHTS IN AFGHANISTAN The government of Afghanistan is waging a war upon women. The situation is getting so bad that one person in an
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 3, 1999
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      The government of Afghanistan is waging a war upon women. 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 sky-rocketing 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 medication 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
      drive and appear in public alone until only 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 name 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 we can threaten military force in Kosovo in the name of human
      rights for the sake of ethnic Albanians, then we can certainly express peaceful
      outrage at the oppression, murder and injustice committed against women by the



      In signing this, we agree that the current treatment of women in Afghanistan is
      completely UNACCEPTABLE and deserves support and action by the people of the
      United Nations and that the current situation in Afghanistan will not be
      tolerated. Women's Rights is not a small issue anywhere and it is UNACCEPTABLE
      for women in 1999 to be treated as sub-human and so much as property. Equality
      and human decency is a RIGHT not a freedom, whether one lives in Afghanistan or
      anywhere else.

      1) Sanna Yrj�n�, Oulu, Finland
      2) Andrea Righini, Bologna, Italy
      3) Carla Chiarini,Bologna,Italy
      4) Claudia Farabegoli, Bologna, Italy
      5) Michelle Armand, Hull, Qu�bec, Canada
      6) Marie-France Paradis, Qu�bec, Qu�bec, Canada
      7) Chantal Dorf, Kigali, Rwanda
      8) Belinda Buysse, Houtem, Belgium
      9) Griet Deforce, Gent, Belgium
      10) Gertie Brughmans, De Pinte, Belgium
      11) Kristel Moncarey, Ninove, Belgium
      12) Carlo Janssens, Londerzeel, Belgium
      13) Didier Martiny, Kampenhout, Belgium
      14) Katrien Goudmaeker, Rixensart, Belgium
      15) Claire Steenberghen, Sint-Joris-Winge, Belgium
      16) Sven Aerts, Antwerp, Belgium
      17) Pavla Jandakova, Brno, Czech Republic
      18) Andrea Torkar, Novo mesto, Slovenia
      19) Ale� Torkar, Novo mesto, Slovenia
      20) Dusan Sterle, Ptuj, Slovenia
      21) Aleska Simkic, Slov. Bistrica, Slovenia
      22) Christina Holl, Trier, Germany
      23) Maria Blyh, Varberg, Sweden
      24) Reni Sarmidi, Perth, Australia
      25) Susanne Mahnkopf, M�nchen, Germany
      26) Eveliina Kontio, Vierema, Finland
      27) Monique Heidemann, Herf�lge, Denmark
      28) Sandy , Durban, South Africa
      29)Kamilla Cybulska, Mikolow, Poland
      30) Joanna Fulton, Melbourne, Australia
      Please sign to support, and include your town and country. Then copy and
      e-mail to as many people as possible. If you receive this list with more
      than 50 names on it, please e-mail a copy of it to:

      - Mary Robinson, High Commissioner, UNHCHR, webadmin.hchr@...

      and to:

      - Angela King, Special Advisor on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women,
      UN, daw@...

      Even if you decide not to sign, please be considerate and do not kill the
      petition. Thank you. It is best to copy rather than forward the petition.
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