The United Nations has begun formal talks with the Taliban to convince them to reverse their ban on Afghan women working for international relief agencies. According to U.N. officials, women workers in Afghanistan are crucial to safeguarding the health and education of Afghan women because male workers are forbidden to meet with women in the Taliban-controlled parts of the country.
The ban has come at a time of a resurgence of fighting between the Taliban and Northern Alliance, devastating drought, severe poverty, and land decimation. United Nations aid workers estimate that tens of thousands of displaced people who refuse to submit to the Taliban are living in tents in rural areas. Abdul Karim, one soldier in the rebel force, condemns the Taliban’s interpretation of sharia (Islamic law) as oppressive and inaccurate. He remarked, “They say they’re bringing sharia. But it’s not sharia to beat women and children or build terrorist bases.”