U.N. Expert to Evaluate Afghan Women’s Situation

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Radhika Coomaraswamy will travel to Afghanistan next month to evaluate the condition of women there under the repressive Taliban regime. Coomaraswamy will meet with Afghan women refugees in Pakistan and travel to the Afghan cities of Kabul, Bamiyan, Herat and Faizabad. Stops in Pakistan will include Islamabad, Peshawar, and Lahore.

“She will collect first-hand information from a wide range of sources to better assess the situation of women in Afghanistan,” said spokesperson Jose Diaz. “Her mandate covers discrimination and violence against women,” he continued.

Since the Taliban seized control of Kabul in September 1996, women have been subject to a series of cruel decrees which have barred them from education and employment and robbed them of their mobility. Women who are caught in public without a close male relative as chaperone or who fail to adequately cover their skin are subject to beatings by members of the Taliban’s vice squads.

This past Wednesday, the U.N. Sub-Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution condemning the Taliban for robbing women and girls of their “rights to health, employment, freedom of movement and security.” The resolution urged Moslem and religious leaders to “give special attention to the extremely difficult and unprecedented situation of women in Afghanistan and to use their authority and knowledge with a view to bringing the policies and practices of the Taliban into line with the true spirit of Islam and principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”


Reuters - August 27, 1999

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