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8/15/2001 - Update: Taliban Won’t Allow Visits to Jailed Workers

The Taliban has denied U.S., Australian and German diplomats’ requests to see jailed foreign aid workers from Shelter Now International. The 8 foreign aid workers along with 16 Afghan workers were jailed last week by the Taliban for “preaching Christianity.” The Taliban has said all 24 workers should be tried in the Taliban’s extremist “Shariat” court, where the workers could face the death penalty. The Taliban has been imposing increasing restrictions on foreign aid workers over the past several months.

Related Articles:
Taliban Wants U.N. Representation, Continues Human Rights Abuses
Update: Taliban Defends Arrests of Humanitarian Workers

8/15/2001 - Italian Women Shouldering Unfair Burden

A new survey by Rome’s Ipsa Institute shows that Italian women are doing a disproportionate percentage of the housework, while working longer hours than any other European women. According to the study, Italian women are averaging 90 minutes of housework a day, while Italian men are averaging only 15 minutes of housework a day. In addition, Italian women are working an average 8 hours a day and cooking for half an hour. The sum of ‘busy’ time works out to 10-11 hours per day for Italian women, compared to 9-10 for German, French, Portuguese, and Spanish women. Swedish and Finish women averaged 7-8 hours per day.

8/15/2001 - Australian University Staff Get Year Paid Maternity Leave

Women staff members at an Australian University have won the right to a year’s paid maternity leave. Upon completing two years of work at the university, women staff members will be eligible to receive their full salary for 12 weeks and then 60 per cent for the remaining 40 weeks of the year. The agreement also allows fathers who are not primary care-givers three weeks paid paternal leave for each child. Australian unions expect that the deal will set a new standard for workers’ rights throughout the country.

8/13/2001 - Nigerian Woman Sentenced to Public Flogging

A 20-year-old Nigerian woman has been sentenced to a public flogging of 100 lashes with a cane, after admitting to an extramarital affair. The ruling came from Nigeria’s northern state of Zamfara, which was one of twelve states to introduce Islamic law last year. Nigeria’s Islamic authorities have been criticized in recent months for harsh rulings, including one in which a 17-year-old girl was sentenced to 100 lashes for having premarital sex.

Related Article: Bariya Ibrahim Magazu Receives Inhumane Flogging

8/1/2001 - Illegal Abortions Claim Thousands of Lives

In African nations where abortion is illegal, tens of thousands of women are forced to undergo back-street abortions that often lead to severe injury or death. Although statistics are difficult to gather because of the government and media’s hesitance to address the problem, it is estimated that deaths resulting from illegal abortions are twice as high in Africa than in developed countries. At least 20,000 deaths occur in Africa every year, the majority in Nigeria.

A report by the Senegalese government found that 8,000 women had illegal abortions in 1995. According to Babacar Mane, a statistician at the Dentec Hospital in Dakar, the figures may in fact be much higher due to women concealing the fact that they had an illegal abortion.

Asbef, a family planning organization in Grand Yoff, Senegal, reports that education programs that focus on contraception and sexually transmitted diseases have not reduced the number of illegal abortions. Social worker Hawa Talla says the "biggest problem remains people who still believe that sex should not be discussed with young people and pupils. We find ourselves in a very conservative society."

Only South Africa, Tunisia and Cape Verde have fully legalized abortions, according to a recent report by the Center for Population Studies. A total of 26 other nations only permit abortion if a pregnancy threatens the life of the mother and another 23 allow abortions the mother’s mental or physical health is in danger. Other nations, such as Senegal, require three doctors to certify the danger to a pregnant woman’s health in order to allow an abortion. Although legislation is currently tabled in the Senegalese parliament to allow abortions in the case of rape or incest, the nation’s powerful Muslim leaders oppose it.

7/31/2001 - U.S. Announces $6.5 Million in Emergency Assistance for Afghan Refugees

Acting State Department Spokesperson Charles F. Hunter announced yesterday that $27 million from the State Department's Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund has been authorized "to respond to unexpected and urgent humanitarian emergencies in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Eritrea and Afghanistan." $6.5 million of these new funds will be allocated to assist displaced Afghans in the South Asian region, including Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, and $5 million will be on reserve for immediate response to unexpected and urgent refugee and migration needs.

These funds will help to relieve the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of Afghans escaping from the barbaric treatment of the Taliban regime and the worst drought to hit the region in thirty years. Many have fled to Pakistan where they have only found death and starvation in refugee camps. Women have suffered disproportionately under the military rule of the Taliban which has enforced restrictive decrees banning women from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a close male relative, ban women and girls from attending school, and have even denied women the right to work to feed their starving children.

The emergency aid for refugees that was announced yesterday is in addition to the $43 million in assistance for internally displaced Afghans announced in May by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. In his May announcement, Secretary Powell stated explicitly that the aid would be dispensed through the United Nations and NGOs, not through the Taliban.

The Feminist Majority has been urging the increase of humanitarian assistance to Afghans, especially women and children who are at peril for their lives. At the urging of the Feminist Majority, 13 U.S. Senators, led by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), sent a letter to Secretary of State Powell urging the provision of emergency assistance to help both internally displaced Afghans and Afghan refugees living in Pakistan.

The Feminist Majority has also been working with Senator Barbara Boxer, (D-CA) and Senator Feinstein to develop legislation which would provide more funding for health and education programs and income generation for programs to help women and their families in Afghanistan and living as refugees in Pakistan. Thousands of individuals have already sent letters, petitions, and e-mails through FM's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan. Urge Congress to increase funds to help Afghan women and girls from our Take Action Center.

7/23/2001 - Turkish Feminists See Virginity Testing of Nurses as Scare Tactic

Outraged by what they believe to be an attempt to deter women from the medical field, Turkish feminists have vowed to fight Turkish Health Minister Osman Durmus' proposed virginity testing of nurses in medical school. Although virginity testing was officially banned in 1999 after five orphans drank rat poison after having their hymens examined, Durmus and the Nationalist Action Party are attempting to chip away at the ban by imposing new laws on women and girls in nursing programs.

"Those who are under the age of 18 are in need of protection from sexual harassment and it is our duty to protect them," Durmas explained. But feminists who are familiar with Turkey's treatment of women believe that the only things being protected by virginity testing are the harmful traditional health practices of a far-right government.

Virginity testing has been a method that many developing nations have used to ensure that a woman's family receives a proper bride price. If a woman brings dishonor to her family by having premarital sex, her bride price drops and her family is shamed. Women who bring shame to their families often fall victim to honor crimes, some which include murder. If prosecuted at all, those family members are handed lighter sentencing because of tradition.

7/20/2001 - Boxer Chairs Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Gag Rule

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Hearing on legislation to overturn President Bush’s Family Planning ‘Gag’ Rule yesterday. Under the ‘gag’ rule, nongovernmental organizations in foreign nations receiving U.S funds for family planning programs cannot use their own money to provide abortion counseling, referrals, or lobby to change abortion law. Federal law has prohibited U.S. direct funding of abortions since 1973.

Susana Silva Galdos, president of Movimiento Manula Ramos, a Peruvian women’s rights advocacy group, had to receive special permission from the courts to speak about abortion at the hearing. Said, Galdos, The gag rule has taken away my freedom to speak about an important issue in my country -- a serious issue that is about the life and death of women in Peru. A freedom that I had to ask a judge to give me back, temporarily, so that I could speak with you today."

Without a share of the $425 million of USAID money, Family Planning Association of Nepal (FPAN) Director General Dr. Nirmal K. Bista fears that he may have to close one or all of his three clinics. “It is estimated that six women die everyday in Nepal due to unsafe abortions performed by unskilled providers. Under the conditions of the (‘gag’) policy we cannot engage in any advocacy effort to legalize abortion-even if it is with our non-U.S. money and at the behest of our own government,” said Dr. Bista.

Said Boxer, "I firmly believe that family planning organizations should not be prevented from using their own privately raised funds to provide legal abortion services, including counseling and referral services. And these groups should not be forced to relinguish their right to free speech in order to receive United States funding."

Boxer is the only woman member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has been leading the fight to overturn the gag rule in the Senate. The Committee is chaired by Joseph Biden (D-Delaware).

7/19/2001 - Abortion Clinic Security Guard Killed in Australia

Steven Rogers, a security guard at the Fertility Control Clinic in Melbourne, Australia was shot in the face and killed by an unidentified gunman on Monday, July 16. Police have not determined if the shooting was related to anti-abortion protests. The clinic, Australia’s oldest private clinic to provide abortions, was the site of an anti-abortion protest that day. The anti-abortion activists had left the clinic only fifteen minutes before the murder. Police now have the gunman in custody, but he has refused to identify himself or enter a plea.

7/10/2001 - Japanese Women’s Groups Deplore Rape by U.S Serviceman

While the U.S. works to ensure rights for a U.S. Airman accused of rape, Japanese women’s groups like Okinawan Women Against Military Violence wonder if the young assault victim will be afforded the same justice.

The serviceman accused of sexually assaulting a young Japanese woman will be prosecuted under Japanese law. The US agreed to his release only after Japanese officials promised Woodland a fair trial complete with a translator and adequate legal defense.

Since the end of WWII, the US military has maintained a strong presence in Japan. In response to an overwhelming US occupancy, the US and Japan agreed to a Security of Forces Agreement in 1960. Among its other functions, SOFAs regulate what legal actions can be taken against U.S. military officers who commit crime abroad.

Opponents of SOFAs believe the agreements have been used to protect criminal acts rather than prosecute them. Japan has a history of sexual assaults going unpunished. Many women’s groups believe that the US uses the SOFAs to safeguard American violence toward women abroad.

Okinawan police records from 1972 to 1997 revealed 200 rapes by US military personnel, but a number of Japanese women’s organizations believe to be a modest estimate because of the social stigma of rape in Japan.

Often the offender can request for a discharge rather than mar his reputation upon conviction. American Staff Sgt. Timothy Woodland was released into Japanese police custody on July 6.

7/3/2001 - Gay and Lesbian Rights Activists Injured at 1st Belgrade Pride March

At what was believed to be the first gay and lesbian rights march in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, dozens of activists were attacked by opponents of equality for homosexuals in the Serbian nation. “Roving bands of young men” attacked the marchers one by one, kicking them repeatedly until police arrived on the scene. The attacks took place before the march’s kick-off this weekend, as the apparently organized opponents attempted to prevent the march from taking place. One attacker told B-92 radio, “we are here to prevent immorality in Serbia” while other protestors shouted, “Serbia is not a gay country.” The protestors also broke the front door windows of the offices of a moderate political party that supports gay and lesbian rights.

Belgrade police chief Bosko Buha said he was not expecting so many violent anti-gay protestors at the march, so he deployed only 50 officers without riot gear. The officers responded quickly to the violence, however, eyewitnesses reported, and a dozen attackers were detained by mid-afternoon. More arrests are expected. None of the injuries sustained that day were life-threatening, and gay and lesbian rights activists in Yugoslavia plan to continue their work. One woman told B-92 radio, “We will not give up our rights and our struggle to introduce democracy in Serbia. I am sorry that there are still people who promote hatred.”

For more information on worldwide pride efforts and the treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals worldwide, visit the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission online.

6/29/2001 - Egyptian Feminist Faces Forced Divorce

If veteran feminist, doctor, and sociologist Nawal Saadawi is tried under hisba, she and her husband of 37 years could be forcibly divorced. Hisba is a concept in ancient Islamic law that allows citizens to police fellow citizens for religious righteousness.

Saadawi has been viewed as an agitator by Muslim fundamentalist throughout her 30 years of activism, but discontent with the activist came to a head when lawyer Nabih Wahsh filed suit against her.

Wahsh alleges that Saadawi “advised people not to wear the veil and “not to pray,” in a March interview with a local newspaper. Saadawi equated the practice of kissing Mauhammad’s Mecca stone to idolatry in an article printed by the Al Midan newspaper

In 1996 the first modern-day hisbu case was tried against Nasr abu Zeid. The Arabic literature professor was charged with being an apostate, one who abandons his or her religious beliefs. Zeid and his wife escaped authorities before sentencing could be imposed and their marriage could be rescinded.

Saadawi has spoken out against male domination and female sexual repression, as author of “The Hidden Faces of Eve” and 39 other books considered “unmentionable” by the ruling class.

If convicted of being an apostate or one who renounces his or her religion Saadawi claims that she and her husband will not separate and she will continue her promotion of women’s rights.

6/25/2001 - Taliban Orders U.N. Out of Kabul Offices

Just days after announcing that it would allow the World Food Program to employ local Afghan women in its survey of the food needs of hundreds of Afghan families, the Taliban militia has ordered the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan to vacate its offices in Kabul, according to the Associated Press (AP). The Taliban notified the U.N. six months ago that it must renew its contract and pay rent on the Kabul offices, a Taliban foreign ministry official argues, and the U.N. did not respond to this request. The U.N. has offered no official comment, but an anonymous Afghan staff member told the Associated Press that the Special Mission has been paying the Taliban electricity charges and municipal taxes on the property in Kabul.

The Taliban has hindered humanitarian missions in Afghanistan with its restrictive edicts barring “inappropriate contact” between women and men, and closing U.N. offices in cities around Afghanistan in May of this year. With one million Afghans facing starvation and a continuing ban against work, education and mobility for women, the situation in Afghanistan is worsening daily.

Get more information and take action with FMF’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan

More Feminist News on Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan

6/22/2001 - UN Special Session Webcast Live

From June 25th to the 27th the United Nations Special Session on HIV/AIDS—which aims to intensify global mobilization to the AIDS epidemic—will be webcast live at no cost by and transcripts will be available a few days after the session concludes. Also, today the site will feature a roundtable discussion on prevention with representatives from the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the World Health Organization, and the United States Agency for International Development.

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, women globally accounted for an estimated 36 percent of new HIV infections in 1997, with women in African and Latin America experiencing the greatest increases in new infections. Women are more susceptible to STDs than men because they are physiologically more vulnerable when they have unprotected sex, they are more often asymptomatic and thus do not seek treatment in a timely manner, and the use of vaginal medications and douching can potentially heighten the likelihood of contracting an STD.

6/19/2001 - Taliban Allows Women to Work on World Food Program Survey

After a year of strained negotiations and rejections, the Taliban finally agrees to allow the World Food Program (WFP) to employ Afghan women in its survey of the food needs of the most vulnerable households in the country. The survey will allow the Program to assess the need in the region and adjust aid and aid delivery, which has been complicated in recent years by the Taliban’s edicts prohibiting contact between men and women. The Taliban announced this weekend that it will allow the World Food Program to hire and train women from a list of potential employees drawn up by the Ministry of Health.

The World Food Program has emphasized from the beginning the importance of hiring women for this effort, as the Taliban’s edicts prevent males from speaking with females. In this survey, local Afghan women will be able to survey women in the household to assess the household’s needs, allowing the Program to analyze and adjust its aid distribution. The WFP already feeds an estimated 3.8 million Afghans, but recent reports show that 5 million Afghans have little or no access to food because of the region’s severe drought. Increased aid is desperately needed.

For more information or to take action on this issue, visit the Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan.

6/15/2001 - House Passes Resolution Condemning Taliban

By a vote of 420-0, the U.S. House of Representatives, with the concurrence of the Senate, passed a Resolution “Condemning the recent order by the Taliban regime of Afghanistan to require Hindus in Afghanistan to wear symbols identifying them as Hindu.” Referencing the requirement in Nazi Germany that Jews wear the yellow Star of David, the resolution strongly condemned the “Taliban’s use of Nazi tactics” and demanded that the Taliban regime “immediately revoke its order stigmatizing Hindus and other non-Muslims in Afghanistan and conform its laws to all basic international civil and human rights standards….”

Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, applauded the action taken by the House. On May 22, when the Taliban requested this religious edict, Smeal compared the Taliban’s treatment of minorities to the Holocaust. “This latest edict is reminiscent of the Third Reich that required Jews to wear a yellow star of David on their clothing, and we all know what that led to," said Smeal. "The treatment of minorities in Afghanistan is bordering on a Holocaust. The civilized world must do more.”

6/15/2001 - FMF Assists Launch of Women on Waves

Women on Waves arrived yesterday in Dublin, Ireland, where abortion is illegal, to provide abortion and reproductive health services to women on a specially equipped ship. The Feminist Majority Foundation’s (FMF) National Clinic Access Project staff is currently providing technical expertise in contemporary threat management and is assisting in the development and implementation of security protocols for the vessel. FMF is assisting the Dutch ship, led by Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, and donating time, staff and resources to ensure the safety of the staff, crew, and women patients aboard the sailing clinic.

According to the Irish Family Planning Association, more than 6,000 Irish women traveled to Britain to obtain abortions last year. It is unknown how many others attempt at-home abortions or seek unsafe, illegal abortions. The United Nations estimates that 80,000 women and girls worldwide die annually from complications resulting from botched, illegal abortions. Women’s health and feminist organizations estimate the number to be greater than 200,000.

Read FMF’s Press Release Feminist Majority Foundation Assists Women on Waves

Vote on CNN: Do you agree with those mooring a boat off the Irish coast to offer abortions to women in a country where abortion is illegal?

6/13/2001 - 3 Women MPs Elected in N. Ireland

Three women won historic seats in Northern Ireland’s House of Commons this week. Unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon was the first woman to be elected in the province of Ulster since Bernadette Devlin in 1969. The lawyer and academic said she hoped her victory would encourage other women to get involved in politics. Iris Robinson of the Democratic Unionist Party will represent the “formerly male bastion” of Strangford. Robinson describes politics as “a way of life” that she has grown into during her marriage to Peter Robinson, the re-elected MP for East Belfast. In a close race, Michelle Gildernew of Fermanagh South Tyrone became the first woman MP from the Sinn Fein party since 1918.

6/11/2001 - FMF’s Clinic Project Assists Women on Waves

Women on Waves left the Netherlands today to travel to international waters off the shores of Ireland, where abortion is illegal, to provide abortion and reproductive health services to women on a specially equipped vessel. FMF’s National Clinic Access Project’s staff is providing technical expertise in contemporary threat management and is assisting in the development and implementation of security protocols for the ship. The Dutch vessel, led by gynecologist Rebecca Gomperts, will provide non-surgical abortions, contraception, counseling, and other services. Gomperts and her mostly female crew hope that the presence of Women on Waves will encourage dialogue about abortion in Ireland.

According to the Irish Family Planning Association, more than 6,000 Irish women traveled to Britain to obtain abortions last year. It is unknown how many others attempt at-home abortions or seek unsafe, illegal abortions. The United Nations estimates that 80,000 women and girls worldwide die annually from complications resulting from botched, illegal abortions. Women’s health and feminist organizations estimate the number to be greater than 200,000.

To learn more about abortion and population issues worldwide, you can purchase a copy of the Feminist Majority’s award-winning video, “Abortion for Survival” in our Online Feminist Store.

For more information on Irish abortion law and reproductive health access, please visit the Irish Family Planning Association

LEARN MORE Click here to read women's narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.

6/7/2001 - British Airways Will Pay in Pregnancy Discrimination Suit

British Airways will pay millions of dollars in back pay to a group of more than 500 flight attendants who were prohibited from working on flights while pregnant. A British employment tribunal found the airline guilty of sex discrimination in 1998. A settlement was finally reached this week: the airline will pay $3.2 million in back pay from flying allowances lost when pregnant flight attendants were moved to ground duties.

6/6/2001 - CRLP To Sue Bush Over Global Gag Rule

The Center for Reproductive Law and Policy announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against President George W. Bush for censoring free speech and will sue him for the global gag rule. This rule bars U.S. aid to family planning programs in developing nations that use their own, separate funds to counsel or advocate abortions. “President Bush took away my right to speak because I support a position with which he disagrees… Yet groups that oppose abortion rights are not censored,” says Janet Benshoof, President of CRLP. The organization will ask a Manhattan federal court to block a section of the global gag rule that bars groups from advocating the reform of abortion laws overseas.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute, a non-partisan research organization, estimates that more than 70,000 women worldwide die each year from complications resulting from botched, illegal abortions. The global gag rule prevents family planning clinics from offering any information on abortion or the consequences of illegal abortion, and in many cases discourages clinics from treating women and girls who are suffering from abortion-related complications.

LEARN MORE Click here to read women's narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.

6/6/2001 - Taliban Imposes Islamic Rule on Foreigners

The Taliban announced this week that it will imposes its extreme, fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law on foreigners in Afghanistan, even going so far as to require foreigners to sign an agreement to obey Islamic laws before entering the country. All persons in Afghanistan must not drink alcohol, eat pork, listen to loud music, or have “inappropriate contact” with members of the opposite sex. Women are prohibited from driving. Failure to comply will result in expulsion from Afghanistan or three days to one month of jail time. “Illegal sexual relations” will be punished according to Islamic law, which, under the Taliban, has included severe beatings and even death. Most Muslim nations, except Saudi Arabia and now Afghanistan, allow non-Muslims exemptions from compliance with Islamic law.

The Taliban’s new edicts come at a time of increasing tensions between the Taliban and the United Nations. According to a U.N. official, the Taliban is “narrowing humanitarian space,” restricting severely the U.N.’s ability to provide aid to the thousands of displaced persons within Afghanistan who are in need of food and shelter. According to the Afghanistan Support Group, the main organization that coordinates all of the Afghan aid, including aid distributed through U.N. channels, the Taliban is risking almost all of the aid to Afghanistan with its increasingly restrictive policies. The ASG warns that the situation is worsening daily.

For more information, news, and take action opportunities on gender apartheid in Afghanistan and the humanitarian crisis there, please visit FMF’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan.

6/6/2001 - On 20th Anniversary of AIDS, Annan Calls for Attn to Women’s Health

With the 20th anniversary of AIDS making headlines around the world, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan chose to highlight the link potential of women’s empowerment to stem the spread of the disease. Addressing the Global Health Council last week, Annan pointed to shifting patterns of infection, “Today, in sub-Saharan Africa, 55 per cent of HIV-positive adults are women. Infection rates in young African women are far higher than in young men. And in the world as a whole, at least half of all new infections are among women.” Annan blamed the higher male to female transmission rates on poverty, abuse and violence, lack of information, coercion by older men, and male promiscuity. The effects of AIDS, he said, are more devastating to families when women are infected, because they tend to be the primary caregivers, and have the potential to pass the infection on to children during pregnancy. Last summer, in preparation for the 13th International Aids Conference, a group of women’s organizations wrote an open letter to South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki arguing that gender inequality is the key obstacle to AIDS prevention. They noted that the number of women’s HIV infection is skyrocketing in countries where women’s sexual and reproductive rights are violated.

Learn more about Women & AIDS

6/1/2001 - Morning-After Pill Goes Over-the-Counter in Belgium

Belgian Health Minister Magda Alvoet announced yesterday that the morning-after pill will be made available to women in Belgium without a prescription beginning on June 10. Alvoet expressed hope that this move would cut the number of women under 20 seeking abortions by increasing access to emergency contraception. Pharmacists will dispense the pill, sold under the name Norlevo, over-the-counter and are being encouraged by the government to distribute information on contraception along with the drug.

Only two countries – Belgium and Britain – have made the morning-after pill available over-the-counter. The pill can prevent pregnancy from occurring if taken within 72 hours after sexual intercourse.

6/1/2001 - Taliban Adds New Restrictions on Women, Feels UN Pressure

In the face of stepped-up pressure from the United Nations (UN) for the Taliban to grant women more freedom, the Taliban has imposed a new ban restricting foreign women from driving cars in Afghanistan. The ban is the latest in a long series of restrictions on women’s rights, and more recently, on women aid workers’ rights. The UN this week threatened to close UN-operated bakeries that provide food aid to Afghans if the Taliban did not allow female aid workers to help administer a poverty survey related to the operation of the bakeries. The ban on foreign female drivers will further restrict aid agencies’ ability to reach those in greatest need. The Taliban has blamed recent tensions with the UN on pressure from US women’s organizations, despite the fact that their oppression of women and minorities clearly violates the UN charter and international standards of human rights.