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
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
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
translators,doctors, lawyers, artists and writers have been forced from
their jobs and stuffed into their homes, so that depression is becoming
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
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 misbehaviour.
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
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 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 Iife can threaten
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
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.. Marianne Giroud, Zurich, Switzerland
2.. Vera Koehli, Zurich, Switzerland
3.. Hartmut Stiess, Zurich, Switzerland
4.. Michael Sturm, Zurich, Switzerland
5.. Adrian Jakob, Berne, Switzerland
6.. Christian Jakob, Zurich, Switzerland
7.. Barbara Rieker, Zurich, Switzerland
8.. Chiara Lo Presti, Zurich, Switzerland
9.. Kathrin Koch, Zurich, Switzerland
10.. Fred R. Willitzkat, Kiel, Germany
11.. Susanne Heckoetter, Giessen, Germany
12.. Beate Schugk, Turku, Finland
13.. Hazel Nolan, Dublin, Ireland
14.. Miriam Ward, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
15.. Emma Jones, Dubai, United Arab Emirates1555
16.. Liz English, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
17.. Alex Bibi, United Arab Emirates
18.. Kami Mosawy, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
19.. Audrey Newman; Dubai; United Arab Emirates
20.. Donna-Maria D'Cunha; United Kingdom
21.. Helen Higgins. Hertford England.
22.. Liz Bradbury, Los Angeles, USA
23.. Rachel Clarke, Dublin, Ireland
24.. Toni Wall, Dublin, Ireland
25.. Alison Mills, Dublin, Ireland
26.. Debbie Hargaden, Dublin, Ireland
28.. Stephen Flynn, Sydney, Australia
29.. Una Mulhall, Dublin, Ireland
30.. Eoin Mc Donnell, Ireland
31.. Sharon O'Neill, Dublin, Ireland.
32.. Aidan Sharpe, Dublin, Ireland.
33.. Gareth Gunning, Dublin, Ireland.
34.. Anita Gunning, Dublin, Ireland.
35.. Ferdinando Meola, London, England.
36.. Sofia Schmidt, Malmö, Sweden
37.. Colin Phipps, Sceaux, France
38.. Kate Anderson, UK
39.. Marta Dlugosz, Glogow, Poland.
40.. Elzbieta Dlugosz, Glogow, Poland.
41.. Edward Dlugosz, Glogow, Poland.
42.. Piotr Dlugosz, Glogow, Poland.
43.. Pawel Dlugosz, Glogow, Poland.
44.. Agnieszka Dlugosz, Glogow, Poland.
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:
Special Advisor on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, UN,
Even if you decide not to sign, please be considerate and do not kill