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Afghanistan Women Deserve Equal Rights
By: Katrina M., homeschooled in Brooks, Alberta

How would you feel if a group of people came into your country and changed the way you lived? To find out that the goals you worked so hard to reach and all the dreams you made for yourself mean nothing because you are a woman. This is what has happened to Afghanistan women after a powerful political group took over in 1996.

At one time, women in Afghanistan enjoyed the same freedoms as Canadian women do. However, now that the Taliban controls over 90 percent of Afghanistan, women have been denied their basic human rights.

They are forced to wear burquas, which cover them from head to foot. They no longer have the right to get an education or to receive medical treatment. The Taliban law prohibits women from speaking or making any noise in public. This law includes hearing laughter or the click from a woman's shoe because all of these things could corrupt males. Women cannot work, socialize or even ride in the same vehicle as men or talk to men. All of these are freedoms they once had, but are now being denied under Taliban rule.

Under Taliban law, women cannot be seen in public without a male member of her family. They are not allowed to have any of their skin showing or to wear brightly colored clothing while in public.

Some may ask why the Taliban has been allowed to do this. Its simple - the Taliban's armies are very strong and have struck fear into the citizens of these countries. After witnessing the beatings of women for such minor offenses as letting the skin on their ankles show, the Afghanistan people have chosen to follow these appalling commands.

Women who were once teachers, professors, nurses, doctors or other professionals are not allowed to speak, let alone work. They have nothing to do except stay in their homes. They are not treated as humans anymore. This devastation has caused an increase in the suicide rate in some cities, though not much has been reported on this increase.

If a woman has been found to disobey a law, they are publicly harassed, intimidated and beaten.

How can this be allowed to continue? World attention on this issues has been ongoing. Human rights groups and the UN have made pleas to the Taliban leaders to address these human right violations. However, very little has changed.

As a young women in a free and democratic society like Canada, I am appalled that something like this is happening in another country. In my opinion action needs to be taken immediately to stop the inhumane treatment of Afghanistan women. To stop this cruel and harsh treatment, the UN, Canada, the United States and other countries need to step up their actions towards Afghanistan and vemently request that the laws be changed and to treat women as equals. If there is still no change, then economic sanctions and other measures may need to be taken. Taliban rulers see women as worthless human beings who are inferior to men. These rulers do not understand all the things that women do for their husbands, children and society as a whole.

Women in Canada, the U.S., Europe and other countries have become great leaders, created new innovations and advanced their way of life. If women did not play such a large role in today's society, life would be extremely different in a negative way. It is likely that the Taliban people will not listen to these requests, thereby making it necessary for the the UN and other countries to intervene.

The situation in Afghanistan is appalling. The rules imposed by the Taliban are inhumane and wrong. Women in Afghanistan have been stripped of all their freedoms. All women should live in an environment where they can express themselves and be who they want to be. Other countries, groups and we as Canadians, must act now to stop these human rights abuses.

Check out other articles by SNN student reporters and websites on this important human rights issue:

Jena Cole’s article on Afgan women

Meghan Roy's article on Afgan women

Amnesty International

1999 Report on Human Rights

Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children

Peace Brigades International

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