For Immediate Release

July 30, 1997

Feminist Majority Protests the Taliban's Violation of Afghan's Women's Rights

Women’s organizations, international groups, and human rights groups condemned the atrocities committed against Afghan women by the Taliban at noon-time pickets, sponsored by the Feminist Majority, in front of the Pakistan and Afghanistan embassies on Thursday, July 30. The demonstration was led by Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, Zieba Shorish-Shamley, chair of the Women’s Alliance for Peace and Human Rights in Afghanistan, and Sima Wali from Refugee Women in Development.

“We cannot stand silently by as Afghan women become victims of inhuman gender apartheid,” said Smeal. “A 16 year-old girl was stoned to death last month because she was traveling with a man who was not a family member. If this was happening to any other class of people around the world, there would be tremendous outcry. We must make sure these same standards are applied when it is women and girls who are brutally treated.”

“The American government and the United Nations must refuse to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate government in Afghanistan. How can women be safe anywhere if some governments can carry out gender apartheid with impunity? Do not think such fundamentalist terror can only happen in a far off country!” continued Smeal.

On September 27, 1996, the Taliban, a fundamentalist Islamic militia group, overthrew the government of Afghanistan in the country’s capital Kabul and unilaterally declared an end to women’s basic human rights. Women can now no longer work outside of the home. Girls are prohibited from attending school. In addition, women are required to completely cover their bodies with a burqa including a mesh covering over the eyes. Women have been beaten for appearing in public without being fully veiled.

The Taliban is reported to have received extensive financial support from Saudi Arabia and military aid from Pakistan. Pakistan was the first nation to officially recognize the Taliban as the ruling power in Afghanistan, and was soon followed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

International oil and gas companies are vying for a contract with the Taliban to build a gas pipeline from energy-rich Turkmenistan, through Taliban-controlled western Afghanistan, to Pakistan.


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