International relief agencies have been working in an renewed climate of danger to their well-being since last week’s Taliban edict ordering all aid agencies and the United Nations to dismiss all Afghan women staff. The Taliban now says this edict as motivated by consensus that Afghan women international aid workers could serve as spies.
Taliban officials took into custody Mary MacMakin after the release of the edict but has been deported from Afghanistan because of Taliban charges of spying and the spread of anti-Taliban propaganda. MacMakin dismisses the Taliban charges saying instead that she is a “threat for the Taliban because my work is with women.” MacMakin who heads the Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Support for Afghanistan, has worked since 1997 to help Afghan women find home-based income generating projects. MacMakin states that “they (the Taliban) don’t want women to work outside of the home, don’t want them to be educated or give them a hint of freedom or be creative.”
Since the Taliban control of the Afghan capitol Kabul in 1996, the extremist regime has enforced laws that refute women and girls access to education, employment outside of the home and quality medical care. The Taliban’s attacks on the human rights of women and girls have contributed to Afghanistan’s ranking of having the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world. A report released by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights indicates that every day in Afghanistan an average of 45 women die of pregnancy related causes resulting in 16,000 maternal deaths annually.