Taleban ban women from working for aid groups
Reuters, By Scott McDonald
July 10, 2000
ISLAMABAD, July 10 (Reuters) - Afghanistan's ruling Taleban has issued orders telling all non-government organisations (NGOs) to sack all female staff working in Afghanistan, a Pakistan-based Afghan news agency reported on Monday.
The Afghan Islamic Press said the order was issued by the Taleban's Planning Ministry to NGOs operating in the capital Kabul.
An official at one NGO confirmed the order but said it was not known how strictly it would be enforced.
``We hope it is not a big deal as they have said this before,'' the official said. ``We are still hoping it will die down.''
Other aid workers said they believed the order was directed at local women working for the NGOs and not international staff.
The order comes with the Taleban already under the international spotlight for its human rights record and treatment of women.
But the official said the order could cause serious problems as many NGOs use hundreds of local women in their community projects.
``If it goes into force, it could really affect us,'' the official said.
The Islamabad-based head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan, Eric de Mul, will travel to Kandahar on Wednesday to discuss the order with Taleban officials, a UNOCHA spokesman said.
Kandahar in southern Afghanistan is the spiritual headquarters for the Taleban.
Aid is a key part of the economy for Afghanistan, ravaged by more than two decades of war, and this year also hit by its worst drought in more than 30 years.
The treatment of women by the Taleban movement has drawn strong international criticism, and caused some groups to withhold aid.
The hardline Taleban movement, which wants to create the world's purist Islamic state, placed restrictions on women's employment, travel and education, and enforced a strict dress code for them soon after taking over Kabul in 1996.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright accused the Taleban in 1997 of gender apartheid, saying the movement's restrictions on women had virtually confined them to their homes.
The order comes about three months after the United Nations said that the Taleban had softened its stringent attitude on women's access to education and health but had not altogether abandoned its hardline stance.
Taliban arrest US aid worker for employing women
The Times of India, July 11, 2000
KABUL: An elderly US aid worker, Mary Macmakin, was arrested by Afghanistan's Taliban rulers because she employed Afghan women, a crime according to the Taliban's strict interpretation of Islam, international aid workers in the beleaguered Afghan capital said Monday.
Macmakin, who is in her late 60s, is director of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Support For Afghanistan. She was arrested on Sunday along with 15 Afghan nationals, including seven women, said aid workers, who did not want to be identified for fear that it would get them into trouble with the hardline Taliban army.
A Taliban security guard at a minimum security prison usually used to house juvenile offenders confirmed the arrest. He refused to give any details.
Since taking control of Kabul in 1996 the Taliban have banned women from working and girls from attending school. The Taliban have imposed a rigid brand of Islamic law in the 90 percent of the country they rule.
Macmakin's organization provided assistance to poor Afghan women, much of it confined to home-based industries. She sought to provide women, particularly widows, with work at home to help them earn an income to feed their families.
There are an estimated 28,000 widows in Afghanistan. Ravished by poverty and war, the majority of the 750,000 people living in Kabul depend on international aid.
Many of the Taliban's Islamic edicts are directed at women. The Taliban require women to wear the all-encompassing burqa and require women tot ravel outside their home accompanied by a male relative.
Women are beaten for defying the orders.
There were indications that the Taliban were preparing for a crackdown. According to some aid workers the Taliban last week sent a letter to the United Nations office in Afghanistan saying that international aid organizations were defying their ban on women working.
The USEmbassy in Pakistan has asked the UNfor assistance to get help free Macmakin.
The USadministration forbids government officials and diplomats from entering Afghanistan. However a spokesman at the USEmbassy in Pakistan said they had received word that a UScitizen had been arrested.
Macmakin has worked in Afghanistan for nearly one decade providing aid to Afghan women and orphans. (AP)
Taliban arrest US aid worker, her staff Ban women from working for aid groups
The News: Jang, July 11, 2000
ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan's ruling Taliban has issued orders telling all non-government organisations (NGOs) to sack all female staff working in Afghanistan, a Pakistan-based Afghan news agency reported on Monday.
The Afghan Islamic Press said that the order was issued by the Taliban's Planning Ministry to NGOs operating in Kabul. An official at one NGO confirmed the order but said it was not known how strictly it would be enforced.
"We hope it is not a big deal as they have said this before," the official said. "We are still hoping it will die down." Other aid workers said they believed the order was directed at local women working for the NGOs and not international staff.
But the official said the order could cause serious problems as many NGOs use hundreds of local women in their community projects. "If it goes into force, it could really affect us," the official said.
The Islamabad-based head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan, Eric de Mul, will travel to Kandahar on Wednesday to discuss the order with Taliban officials, a UNOCHA spokesman said. -Reuters
AFP adds: Afghanistan's Taliban militia have arrested an American woman and her staff from a foreign aid group as they try to enforce laws against local women working, officials and aid workers said on Monday.
They said the Taliban religious police arrested Mary MacMakin, head of Kabul-based Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Support for Afghanistan (PARSA), late on Sunday together with seven Afghan women and eight men.
Taliban sources said that MacMakin, a 71-year-old grandmother who has been living in Afghanistan for more than 30 years, was being kept in the Kabul House of Juvenile Delinquents together with the female staff.
Foreign aid workers said the male staff had been released after several hours of detention. Taliban authorities last week ordered all the UN agencies and other international aid groups in the Afghan capital to stop employing local women, foreign aid workers said.
Representatives from the UN and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were called to a meeting with a senior Planning Ministry official early on Monday, they added. UN Regional Coordination Officer in Kabul Elian Dethoit said that the meeting failed to make it clear what would happen to the hundreds of local women already employed by the UN and foreign NGOs. "During the meeting it was not clear which staff we have to dismiss," she said. She said the UN and aid groups planned to order Afghan female employees not to work until further notice.
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