Campaign against Terrorism: Human Rights - PM's Wife Says Burqa Is a `Symbol of Oppression'
Marie Woolf Chief Political Correspondent, The Independent (London, England)
CHERIE BOOTH, the Prime Minister's wife, strode into the political spotlight yesterday to voice her anger at the denial of "basic human rights" to women in Afghanistan.
At a press conference in Downing Street, Ms Booth, a human rights lawyer, railed against the treatment of women under the Taliban, and denounced the wearing of the burqa. Wearing nail varnish was an offence punishable by the removal of a woman's fingernails, she said, adding: "Nothing more symbolises the oppression of women than the burqa, which is a very visible sign of the role of women in Afghanistan."
But her sharply worded comments upset some Islamic leaders, who urged the West to concentrate on the struggle of everyday life in the shattered country, rather than the sartorial restrictions on its women. The way of life of women in Afghanistan was a complex matter ill-suited to public pronouncements by politicians or their spouses, they suggested.
Ms Booth has avoided the public eye since her husband's landslide election win in 1997, rarely giving public backing to government measures. But flanked by Clare Short and Estelle Morris, the Secretaries of State for International Development and Education, Ms Booth said she had been motivated by reading of the erosion of women's rights and meeting women who had been victims of the Taliban regime.
Ms Booth, a QC and Crown Court recorder, said that, in all her years of experience in human rights, she could not recall "repression or cruelty quite as horrifying as that the Taliban regime have imposed on the people of Afghanistan.
"We all know that the Taliban is a regime that denies all its citizens even the most basic of human rights, and for women that is particularly acute," she said. Her condemnation mirrors that of Laura Bush, who on Saturday …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Campaign against Terrorism: Human Rights - PM's Wife Says Burqa Is a `Symbol of Oppression'. Contributors: Marie Woolf Chief Political Correspondent - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: November 2, 2001. Page number: 7. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.