Only international pressure can stop Taliban oppression of women

Letter to the Editor

Following my participation in the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, I created the 100 Heroines Project to recognize and support women around the world who are putting themselves at risk on behalf of women's rights.

(From left to right) Dr. Quin (USA), Ms. Patricia Lalonde (France) and Ms. Khalida Masoodi (Algeria), in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Through this global project I realized that, while women are oppressed in many countries, nowhere is the situation so extreme as in Afghanistan. Not only are Afghan women prevented by the Taliban from exercising their most basic rights to education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement, but the Taliban regime is instituting this denial of human rights into law.

I know from personal experience the extreme measures Islamic militants will use to achieve their goals.

In December, 1998, I was among a group of 16 tourists taken hostage by the Aden Abyan Islamic Army in Yemen. Four of our group were shot dead and two badly wounded by gunfire. Like these Yemenis militants, the Taliban use violence and a distorted interpretation of Islam to force their ideology on others.

In Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on June 27-28th, 2000, I personally witnessed a gathering of more than two hundred Afghan women who gave testimony to the terrible conditions imposed on them in Afghanistan. These women also drafted their Declaration of the Fundamental Rights of Afghan Women to reaffirm the rights they enjoyed before the Taliban regime.

In support of this Declaration, we non-Afghans who were present at the Dushanbe Conference composed the Call for Action [eds: see below] document to help bring world attention to the human rights tragedy currently being indicted on Afghan women by the Taliban and by their Pakistan supporters. The Taliban can only persist in suppressing the human rights of Afghan women if the international community stands by and allows it to happen.

Dr. Mary P. Quin (signed)


Call for Action by WORFA

Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 28 June 2000

We, a group of 45 people, of whom 43 are women of various nationalities (Algerian, French, American and Spanish) have come to Dushanbe on June 27th and 28th 2000, as individuals or representatives of women's organizations. Women on the Road for Afghanistan (WORFA) is part of the Worldwide March of Women taking place five years after the Beijing Conference on Women. Here in Dushanbe, we met with more than two hundred Afghan refugee women who have fled the war in Afghanistan. They came to this meeting to give witness to and write up their "Declaration of the Fundamental Rights of Afghan Women."

After hearing the direct testimonies of these women and taking into consideration the reports made by international organizations investigating the war in Afghanistan, we hereby state that we consider the vicious oppression of women in Afghanistan to be as serious an issue as the training of terrorists or drug trafficking.


* The barbaric acts and massive attacks on fundamental rights committed against the women of Afghanistan by the Taliban regime.

* The suppression of freedom to move about, to work and to access healthcare.

* The attacks on woman's dignity and invasion of private and family life, attacks that cause irreparable physical and mental damage and are international crimes against humanity.

* The cynical pretense of the Taliban regime that claims to subscribe to the international laws protecting the rights of women and men.

* The international drug traffic by the Taliban representing 80% of the world production of heroin.

* The fact that the zones controlled by the Taliban have become an epicenter generating international terrorism which has become a threat to democracies.

* Pakistan's active alliance in providing logistics and arms support to the Taliban regime.

* The "neutrality" of the international community, international organizations and world states which in effect constitutes complicity with the criminal acts of the Taliban.


The Declaration of Afghan women that their fundamental rights be respected.

The resistance of all Afghans to the Taliban regime.

In relation to the above, we, acting as individuals and representatives of organizations solemnly call upon:

Democratic nations,

The international community,

International organizations

1. To publicly support the Afghan Women's Declaration of Rights written in Dushanbe on June 28th, 2000, by the Afghan women meeting there.

2. To urgently carry out actions that will favor the establishment of a democratic system in Afghanistan.

For more information, contact: Shoukria Haidar, NEGAR, Association, B.P. 10, 25770 Franois, France, Tel/Fax 011-33-1-48-350-756.


Copyright © Women on the road for Afghanistan 2001