Late Breaking News
|Date: August 20, 1998 2:36 pm
Contact: National Organization for Women
NOW Press Office 202-331-0066 202-785-8576 fax
MIRA WEINSTEIN ext 705; or REBECCA FARMER
|NOW Reminds State Department Of Commitment To Afghan Women|
|WASHINGTON - August 20 - NOW leaders today called on the state
department to honor its commitment to the 9 million women and girls living under
oppressive Taliban rule. News reports indicate that if the Taliban is willing to
stop protecting suspected terrorists, the US would consider granting the radical Islamic
faction recognition as a government. US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said
the Taliban's protection of terrorists is one issue on which recognition would hinge.
"While we agree that the Taliban should not harbor terrorists, we insist that the US continue to deny recognition to the Taliban until human rights are restored to Afghan women and girls," said NOW Membership Vice President Karen Johnson. In the past, Johnson and leaders from the Feminist Majority have met with officials from the state department and received their assurance that the US government would not recognize the Taliban until the
Taliban recognized women's human rights.
"I hope these news reports do not represent an attempt to go back on that commitment," Johnson said.
NOW and other feminist organizations oppose any favorable treatment granted the radical Islamic movement that rules much of the country. "Women in Afghanistan live under oppressive conditions most of us can only imagine in our worst nightmares," Johnson said.
Among the restrictions Afghan women face are: a ban on outside employment; dangerously strict dress codes for women; very limited medical treatment; threats of violence if seen without a husband, father or other male relative; and denials of humanitarian aid. Women are denied their share of any humanitarian aid delivered to the country under the premise that the men will take care of the women. Also, Afghan girls are forbidden from attending school.
"The Taliban refuses to recognize the human rights of 60% of the population. I expect that the US and other governments will not reward the Taliban's criminal behavior to score political points in the wake of tragedies like the Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam bombings," Johnson said.
She also expressed concern that any recognition as a government could give international corporations the green light to invest in Afghanistan. The Unocal Corporation is allegedly interested in securing a contract to build an oil pipeline across that country. NOW views any project that would help sustain the oppressive Taliban regime as a contribution to the abuse and suffering of Afghan women and girls.
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