Indymedia UK, Aug.5,2004

Oxford Students Appeal for RAWA

Oxford University Students Union Women's Campaign invites fellow students to join them in a summer picnic for the women of Afghanistan on Monday 7 June in St John's College at 5 pm. They'll be plenty of free food and drink available (including fairtrade) and Pimms will be sold as part of an appeal for RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. Students are also being encouraged to donate their books...


Denied access to education, health care, employment, travel and legal recourse, and subject to domestic slavery, custodial violence and sexual crime, the women of Afghanistan have endured decades of desperate poverty and the horrors of war and fundamentalism. RAWA was established in Kabul in 1977 as an independent political/social organisation of Afghan women fighting for peace, freedom, democracy, human rights and social justice. RAWA campaigns on behalf of some of the most tyrannised women in the world.

The founding leader of RAWA, Meena, was brutally assassinated in 1987. RAWA supporters have faced imprisonment, torture and death to alert the world to conditions in Afghanistan. Yet RAWA continues to involve an increasing number of Afghan women in their inspirational campaign of non-violent resistance to political repression, as well as providing urgently needed education and health facilities for refugee women and children.

RAWA has achieved much coverage in the international media and has won many prestigious awards, including the International Alfonso Comín Award (2003), the Asian Human Rights Award (2001), the French Republicıs Liberty, Equality, Fraternity Human Rights Prize (2000) and a gift from Amnesty International (1995).

RAWA is always in need of funds and publicity. Today the organisation is also in need of 'films with progressive and anti-fundamentalist themes (preferably with sub-titles in Persian or, if not available, in English) and also books, reference books, encyclopaedias, dictionaries, periodicals, etc.' for a resource centre for anti-fundamentalist education. This is the perfect endeavour for Oxford University students to support: assisting the cause of female education, sharing the resources of our inheritance to promote universal human rights, and providing intellectual and moral sustenance for RAWA's heroic efforts on behalf of the women of Afghanistan.

Collecting such material, as students come to the end of their courses, should be fairly easy, as well as being an imaginative alternative to the usual appeals for funds. Students will have the opportunity to dispose of some of their books in a worthy cause, and the picnic will help to pay for the postage. RAWA are also in need of many small size video (mini-DV cameras are preferred) and photo cameras to be able to film and photograph the atrocities against women in Afghanistan.

OUSU Womenıs VP Catherine Wallis explained, "We are delighted to be able to support womenıs education and other human rights in such a practical way. As women students ourselves, the plight of the women of Afghanistan has an immediate resonance with the members of OUSU Womenıs Campaign and collecting these resource materials seemed an innovative and exciting way to help out. RAWA has done a lot of good work over the past few years and we would like to show solidarity with them in this and promote their aims in any way we can. I would really encourage everybody to get involved!"

Emma Jones, who is bringing a motion to OUSU Council in support of RAWA, said, "Support for RAWA is an expression of solidarity with some of the worldıs most suffering women in their brave work for a better future. As Oxford students, it is important to look out of the ivory tower, and recognise that there are some countries in which a womanıs right simply to exist as her own person is denied. RAWA has a motto, ŒYou are not free until all women are freeı. No one (especially the next generation) can afford to be complacent about female equality, while the women of Afghanistan continue to be denied the most basic human rights."

Women's Campaign is hoping to organise collections of resources in Colleges from next week. Those coming to the picnic should meet at 5.00 on Monday at St. Johnıs College in the Lodge.

For further details please email or contact Emma on

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