The Flamme newspaper (South Africa), June 7, 2000

Fundamentalism cannot be cured


The UN and the US Congress and government have been urged to adopt a resolution against Taliban and Jehadic militiamen and encourage the growth of a democratic movement in Afghanistan. In a petition made available to participants to Beijing +5, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan further calls upon the UN and the US government to lead international sanctions against fundamentalists of all hue and countries that deal with them.

Five years after the Beijing Platform of Action officially recognised women’s rights as human rights, Sajeda Hayat, a member of the underground women’s movement cannot use her real name for fear of reprisals when she returns home. Her organisation lacks an office because this might expose members to persecution.

A young professional, she does not give the impression that she would be comfortable dressed from head to toe in the burqa that women in her society are expected to wear. Back home, she risks being stoned to death on the streets for wearing bright colours or heeled shoes that click. She must have even her ankles covered to avoid corrupting men.

In Afghanistan, women cannot be treated by a male doctor or be operated on by a surgical team that includes male surgeons. In a court of law, a woman’s testimony is worth half of that by a man and no woman can step outside her house without a male chaperon. All girls’ schools have been closed down and women cannot travel in private vehicles with male passengers. They cannot raise their voices in public. Even laughing loud is unacceptable.

Sexual crimes against women, gang rapes, lust murders, abduction of young females, blackmail of families with eligible daughters are apparently still commonplace under the Taliban fundamentalists. “Fundamentalist crimes, the persistently muted human rights record of Saudi Arabia and Iran and reports from the Sudan, Egypt and Algeria speak volumes,” says Sajeda. “The Taliban have committed such atrocities against women that even the fundamentalist regimes of Saudi Arabia and Iran are feeling ‘ashamed’ and find themselves compelled to tell the Taliban that such actions and policies are denigrating Islam.”

She believes that fundamentalism cannot be cured. It has to be eliminated in order for democracy to live. In Afghanistan, freedom of choice is limited to those who hold the guns and the money- and happen to be men.


[Interview of Minnesota University] [Interview with New York Times Magazine]