Afghanistan followed the same fate as dozens of formerly Soviet-occupied countries
after the collapse of Moscow’s Marxist government in 1991. Islamic factions, which had united to
expel the Russian occupiers in 1992, began to fight among themselves when it became apparent
that post-communist coalition governments could not overcome the deep-rooted ethnic and
religious differences of the members. It was in this atmosphere of economic strife and civil war
that a fundamentalist band of religious students emerged victorious. By 1996, this group, the
Taliban, ruled 90% of the country with a controversial holy iron hand.
The other 10% of the country is tenaciously held by minority opposition groups led by
president Rabbani and military commander Ahmed Shah Massoud and aided by foreign Taliban
adversaries. This Northern Alliance shares critics’ objections to the Taliban’s extreme
fundamentalist methods and especially scorns Pashtun ethnic chauvinism.
Today only Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia recognize the Taliban
as Afghanistan’s legitimate ruling party. The United Nations still considers Massoud head of
State, the US advocates a broad based government and others favor Rabbani, Zahir Shah,
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar or other opponents as rulers of Afghanistan.
The Taliban claim to follow a pure, fundamentalist Islamic ideology, yet the oppression
they perpetrate against women has no basis in Islam. Within Islam, women are allowed to earn
and control their own money, and to participate in public life. The 55-member Organization of
Islamic Conference has refused to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s official government.
The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, regarded by many as an ultraconservative, fundamentalist
organization, has denounced the Taliban’s decrees.
Female employment and education is restricted or banned. Women must stay at home.
If necessary, women who do leave the house must be accompanied by a male relative and cover
themselves with a burqa (an ankle-length veil with a mesh-like opening in front of the eyes).
Non-religious music, cassette tapes, TV and movies are all banned. Multi-colored signs are
prohibited. White socks are forbidden (either because they are considered a sexual lure or
because they resemble Afghanistan’s flag). Children cannot fly kites, play chess or play with the
pigeons since it distracts them from their religious studies. Men must wear beards or face prison
until their shaven whiskers grow back. Paper bags are banned since the paper might have been
recycled from old Korans and lower level windows must be blackened to prevent males from
inadvertently catching women in compromising states. In order to guarantee that men and
women observe the new rules, the Taliban have employed a moral police force (Agents for the
Preservation of Virtue and Elimination of Vice) to search for violators. The purported brutal
treatment of offenders by the moral police has led Amnesty International to classify the conduct
Prior to the Civil War and Taliban control, especially in Kabul, the capital, women in
Afghanistan were educated and employed: 50% of the students and 60% of the teachers at
Kabul University were women, and 70% of school teachers, 50% of civilian government workers,
and 40% of doctors in Kabul were women.
Some examples of gender apartheid follow:
A woman who dared to defy Taliban orders by running a home school for girls was
shot and killed in front of her husband, daughter, and students.
A woman caught trying to flee Afghanistan with a man not related to her was stoned to
An elderly woman was brutally beaten with a metal cable until her leg was broken
because her ankle was accidentally showing from underneath her burqa.
Women have died of treatable ailments because male doctors were not allowed to
Many women, now forcibly housebound, have attempted suicide by swallowing
household cleaner, rather than continuing to live under these conditions.
97% of Afghan women surveyed by Physicians for Human Rights exhibit signs of
The Taliban creates fallacies t maintain control. The following is an excerpt from ____
newspaper in 199_. The Taliban emerged in early 1994 from the Sunni religious schools
(called madrassat) near Quetta, Pakistan, at a time when factional fighting and resulting
lawlessness were at their height. Originally a small band of warriors from the majority
Pashtoon tribe, their numbers swelled as they met with increasing success. Their take-over
of the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, in April 1994, was welcomed by its citizens, who
had long suffered under corrupt and brutal mujehadeen commanders. The Taliban (the
name derives from the Arabic word for student) quickly established order in Kandahar,
disarming all factions and the general population. The Taliban leader of the faithful, amir
ul-momineen, Mohammed Omar, is a former mujahedin and is a mullah from Kandahar. A
Pashtoon city, Kandahar has accepted the Taliban’s version of sharia (Islamic law), which is
more or less consistent with local traditions. Today it is peaceful. The Taliban subsequently
swept through south-western Afghanistan, and arrived in Herat, close to the Iranian border,
in September 1995. On 27 September 1996 the Taliban took control of Kabul. Little
resistance was offered by retreating government forces. The Taliban version of Islam is an
interpretation of the Koran(i-sharif) and derived from Pashtunwali, the Pashtun tribal code.
Initially welcomed Taliban has stopped the abuse of power, increasing dogmatism and
‘gender apartheid’ , which was unchecked by the former so khown ‘Mujahid
Warriors’.Taliban-controlled areas appear to be relatively calm. Most Afghans give high
marks to the Taliban for their ability to bring security to the sizeable territory under their
control. Checkpoints in Kabul, Logar, and Paktia Provinces are lightly manned and
non-threatening; guns are not in evidence among the general populace in cities and
International oil interests are in fierce competition to build pipelines through Afghanistan
to link Caspian Sea oil and gas reserves to Central and South Asia. California-based UNOCAL, a
U.S. energy company, led the CentGas consortium that planned to build an oil and gas pipeline
through Afghanistan. The Taliban stood to gain $100 million a year from this pipeline. UNOCAL
announced it was suspending the project at the end of 1998, citing in part, pressure from feminist
organizations protesting the company’s involvement with the Taliban. Other U.S. and
international corporate interests are vying for business in the country. Recently, Telephone
Systems International (TSI), a New Jersey-based telecommunications firm, reached an
agreement with the Taliban to install a satellite-based system throughout Afghanistan. Corporate
investment under current conditions could mean billions of dollars to shore up the Taliban regime
I have compiled a few things individuals can do to help this situation.
introduce RAWA and RAWA activities to individuals, groups, schools, organisations,
and other congregations in your community
stage protests, marches, demonstrations in support of RAWA and in solidarity with
organise gatherings, meetings, seminars, etc. to highlight the situation of Afghan
write to Pakistan authorities voicing your protest and support for RAWA in events of
government or non-government violence against our organisation (assassination of our
founding leader in Pakistan; and maltreatment of RAWA collaborator by Pakistani
government secret service agents in Islamabad, April 28, 1997; by Taliban hooligans on
RAWA demonstration, April 28, 1998; of RAWA and its etc.)
invite RAWA members to speak on its activities, situation of Afghan women, etc.
give coverage to reports on Afghanistan and Jihadi and Taliban crimes in your
publications, or somehow make people in your community aware of them
(for those who know Persian, Pashtu or Urdu:) translate RAWA writings and articles for
us into major languages, particularly English
sell our , (in Farsi, Pushto, Urdu and English) and audio of patriotic and revolutionary
songs in your community against advance payment of price and postage costs to us
help our with funds, any and all school supplies, etc.
help our hospitals with funds, medicines and medical supplies
donate computers and copiers for our publications and our training courses for refugee
donate films with revolutionary and anti-fundamentalist themes (preferably with
sub-titles in Persian or, if not available, in English) and also books, reference books,
encyclopaedias, dictionaries, periodicals, etc. for our resource centre for
donate funds to cover postage/freight costs of medicines, books and school supplies
which friends in Europe and America have collected and donated to us but which we
unfortunately cannot receive because postage/freight charges are not included
donate camcorders, cassette duplicators, sound mixing equipment, CD recorders,
special equipment for RAWA’s documentation centre of Jihadi and Taliban crimes
make other donors aware of the womens’ needs