Human Rights Study Reports Worldwide Oppression of Women

The U.S. State Department’s latest annual human rights study reported that women around the world are still being denied basic rights. The annual report on human rights covers 193 countries, and is used by the U.S. Congress to make decisions concerning foreign aid, military and trade preferences. During his first term, President Clinton required that the report devote a section to the status of women.

Despite continued advances in areas such as the prohibition of genital mutilation, and the criminalization of domestic violence, which can largely be attributed to the work of non-governmental organizations (NGO1s), many women continue to be denied their basic human rights. The abuses listed range from rape and forced prostitution to continued economic disparities in what are considered to be modern, democratic countries. Algerian and Afghan women face the harshest conditions, according to the reports. Since the Taliban militia gained control over Afghanistan, women are systematically being stripped of basic rights they once enjoyed.

The study reported, “Women were beaten for violating increasingly restrictive Taliban dress codes, which require women to be covered from head to toe. Women were strictly prohibited from working outside the home, and women and girls were denied the right to an education. Women were forbidden from appearing outside the home unless accompanied by a male family. Beatings and death resulted from failure to observe these restrictions.”

Women in Algeria are undergoing barbarous conditions as a result of fighting between Islamic militants and the military-backed government. The report stated, “Algerian women suffered extreme oppression and atrocities by militant groups this year, including rape, forced prostitution, ‘temporary marriages,’ and beatings and beheading for failure to wear head coverings,” the report said.

The study also reported an increase of human rights abuses in countries that are in “transition” towards a democratic government. “In such situations,” said the report, “women lack shelter, food, and the ability to provide for their children.” Increased trafficking of women was also noticed, specifically in Eastern Europe, Indochina and the former Soviet Union.

Violence against women both inside and outside of the home runs rampant throughout the United States and “virtually every country.” Feminist News Stories on Afghanistan


IPS - January 30, 1998

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