The Times of India, January 18, 2005

Afghan women in parlours!
Times News Network

Varanasi: While feminist organizations of Afghanistan believe that it is impossible to protect women’s rights amidst the rampant rule of warlords in their country, Pakistan’s humanitarian organizations opine that brining women into the mainstream is impossible without an alternative to the popular Madrasa education of Pakistan.

“The international media is sending wrong signals by publishing photographs of women frequenting beauty parlours in Afghanistan. The truth is far from the fell-good picture that is being painted,” said Sahar Saba, a member of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA).

Saba, along with Nida Ali, a member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and other delegates from SAARC countries are here to attend a convention on rights of people before the beginning of the SAARC summit.

In its resolution, the People’s SAARC, a South Asian people’s forum, expressed concern over the Afghanistan women who have been victims of discrimination over the years and also have been denied basic rights.

However, it praised the efforts of Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) and extended its support to its cause of fight against enemies of women and democracy. The resolution urged Afghanistan government to ensure security and free movement of Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan and its activists in the country.

City Pioneer, January 18, 2005

Due to the threat of fundamentalist organizations like Northern Alliance, al-Qaeda and Taliban, Saba said, her organizations was forced to operate from outside the country’s borders. During an informal session with TOI, she said the general impression was that al-Qaedia and the Taliban had been uprooted. “The truth was that the Northern Alliance was still dominant, and its fundamentalist mindset posed a serious threat to democracy,” She added.

“If the international media is interested in portraying the real picture of Afghani women, they should go outside Kabul where burqas are mandatory. Illiteracy makes women insecure,” Saba said adding further that the common man in Afghanistan knows the benefits of education. Contrary to the general viewpoint on Afghanistan, she said, schools and playgrounds for children were still a distant dream. Saba said the elected government had so far been unable to pay attention to social and cultural aspects because requirements in other areas, like ensuring potable water and food supply system as well as shelter for people were still a major area of concern here.

Saba also said there was an urgent need for dealing with refugees. “Refugees have taken shelter in Iran and Pakistan. Through Pakistan is not disturbing the refugees, ever since a treaty has been signed in this regard, but they have been forced to leave form several other places,” she said. Throwing light on the bleak scenario, she said people who had migrated to neighboring counties had lost their property and occupation both.

Under these circumstances, she said, forcing the refugees to go back to their country could prove hazardous as it could generate problems like drug and child trafficking. She sought the international community’s help in taking up these problems on priority.

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