Magazine article World Watch

Afghan Women

Magazine article World Watch

Afghan Women

Article excerpt

Sonali Kolhatkar and Neesha Mirchandani work with the U.S.-based Afghan Women's Mission, which aims to support the efforts of the decades-old Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), an underground group of about 2,000 people working to improve the status of women in Afghanistan.

Worldwatch (WW): How has life changed for Afghan women in the past few months?

Sonali Kolhatkar: Afghan women had been dying a slow death under the Taliban. They were stripped of their rights to work, to study, to walk outside unhindered and with dignity. They had virtually no health care, little hygiene, and experienced unprecedented levels of illiteracy and mortality. [Ninety percent of Afghan girls are illiterate and infant mortality rates in the country are the highest in the world--a quarter of all children die before their fifth birthday.]

The Northern Alliance has replaced the Taliban and this is terrible news for Afghan women and Afghans in general. These were the same men who were fighting a terrible war for power in the early 1990s, during which rime they killed tens of thousands of innocent Afghans. These men are terrorists in their own right and their human rights abuses--torture, rape, forced marriages--have been very well documented by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

WW: What do you think Afghanistan has lost in the past decade by restricting the rights of women?

Neesha Mirchandani: Even if Afghanistan moves toward gender equality, thousands of women have been affected by the two decades of war in Afghanistan. …

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