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UNHCR Presses Taliban on Women’s Rights

Sadako Ogata, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, met with Taliban officials over the weekend and used most of her time to pressure the terrorist regime to revoke its draconian policies toward women and girls. Ogata, the highest ranking U.N. official to meet with the Taliban, told the officials that their anti-woman edicts contributed to the delay in refugees’ return to the region, ending her previous silence on the issue of women’s rights under the Taliban.

In response to Ogata’s statement that their treatment of women and girls was troubling to the international community, the Taliban argued that it was “conservative Afghan tradition” that kept them from expanding women’s rights– this despite the fact that these bans were never a part of Afghan tradition. Before the Taliban took power in 1996, women were 50 percent of the students and 60 percent of the teachers at Kabul University.

The officials guided Ogata on tours of the Herat region, showing her newly-opened home schools and a nursing college for women. These facilities are not representative of the situation for Afghan women under the Taliban, however, as formal schools are closed to girls and women and home schools, which also violate the education ban, are run at great risk to teachers.

Governor Khairkhwa of Herat, considered relatively progressive among the Taliban, compared women to dogs to explain Taliban’s attitude toward women: most Afghans despise dogs, but will treat them well if they obey commands.

Sources:

Washington Post - September 20, 2000 and Feminist Majority Foundation

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