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>> The International Herald Tribune

Don’t Leave Afghan Women Out

by Emma Bonino

As the Taliban regime in Afghanistan collapses in the face of U.S bombing and a ground offensive led by the Northern Alliance, the moment of truth is approaching for the main victims of Taliban rule: the women of Afghanistan. The international community — in the form of the U.S., the European powers most involved in the present conflict, and the UN — must seize the moment and insist on the inclusion of women at every level of the country’s new provisional government. This is the key demand of a new campaign launched in the past few days by the Transnational Radical Party. The campaign, which already has the backing of hundreds of Members of Parliament across Europe, is appealing to the international public to observe an “international day of fasting and non-violent protest” on Nov. 24. The event is intended to put pressure on political leaders around the world to move beyond rhetorical commitments to the rights of Afghan women by taking concrete steps to ensure the full participation of women in the new Afghan government. Putting women in power in Kabul is not just a form of reparation for those who suffered most grievously at the hands of the Taliban regime. It is a necessary pre-condition to re-start development (including the development of democ-racy) in a country brought to its knees by over 23 years of civil wars and occupation. Before the civil war, Afghan women took an active part, especially in the urban areas, in the development and modernisation of the country, some-times occupying roles normally reserved for men in the Muslim world. Many women practised in the legal and medical professions, or held positions of responsibility in the civil service. However, the condition of Afghan women began to deteriorate rapidly at the beginning of the 1990s with the war between the various Afghan factions and the rise to power of the Taliban, who reduced them to slavery, depriving them of the most elementary rights and making them literally invisible. The barbaric, bloody Taliban regime deprived them of the right to study, to work and to vote, the right to equality before the law and even the right to circulate freely. During more than ten years of theocratic rule, women were subjected to compulsory segregation in the home, the wearing of the burqa on the few occasions they were allowed to go outside — always accompanied by relatives— public stoning, absolute submission to men, and daily abuse and rape, often resulting in suicide. In 1998 in Kabul, during a visit as European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, I denounced the condition of women in Afghanistan, and was arrested by the Taliban. At that time I was alone in my struggle. I hope that I will not remain so, now that everyone, even the governments of the democratic world, has finally noticed the intolerable abuse that Afghan women have suffered for at least ten years. There is, however, only one way to ensure that the issue of the rights of women is discussed during the negotiations for the constitution of the provisional government of Afghanistan: to ask for and obtain their full, direct participation in the new government. Anything else would risk being nothing more than ineffectual denunciation, soon forgotten when the Afghan question is no longer in the spotlight of the international press. In order to ensure that this very reasonable proposal is accepted, strong pressure must be exerted on the governments of the United States and of the other countries taking part in the military operations, on the United Nations, on the leaders of the Northern Alliance and on King Mohammed Zaher Shah. The Transnational Radical Party is calling on people around the world to show their support by dedicating one day, Nov. 24, to fasting and other forms of non-violent protest. The appalling plight of the women of Afghanistan went largely unnoticed by the West for most of the past decade. This time, we have a chance to do something concrete to make sure such suffering is never allowed to happen again. It’s up to all of us to see that the opportunity is not lost. *Emma Bonino is a member of the European Parliament and a formerEuropean Commissioner.

Altri articoli su:
[ Afghanistan ] [ Nonviolenza ] [ Afghanistan: Donne nel Governo Provvisorio ] [ Diritti Umani, Civili  & Politici ]

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[ Afghanistan ] [ Nonviolenza ] [ Afghanistan: Donne nel Governo Provvisorio ] [ Diritti Umani, Civili  & Politici ]

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[ Afghanistan ] [ Nonviolenza ] [ Afghanistan: Donne nel Governo Provvisorio ] [ Diritti Umani, Civili  & Politici ]

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