Taleban seek to improve women's lot
Tuesday, October 6, 1998 Published at 01:38 GMT 02:38 UK
The supreme leader of the Taleban movement in Afghanistan, Mullah Mohammad Omar, has issued a decree which he says will protect women's rights.
The decree aims to protect the rights of married women while still adhering to Islamic Shari'ah law.
It outlaws various traditional Afghan customs, such as the giving of a woman for marriage in settlement of disputes between families or tribes.
It also says that men and women must both consent to marriage.
At present many women in Afghanistan are still forced into marriage, especially in rural areas in the south of the country.
The decree also stipulates that women have the right to inheritance, and that brides can keep the dowries that are traditionally paid to their families by the groom's parents.
It also says that nobody can force a widow to marry a male relative of her deceased husband without her consent.
At present, widows often have no say in the choice of her next husband.
Decree may not be enough
The decree comes at a time when the Taleban, which now controls about 90% of Afghanistan, is seeking recognition by the world community.
However, it has been severely criticised for its human rights records, particularly concerning women.
Our correspondent in Kabul, William Reeve, says the timing of the new decree may be no coincidence.
But it still fails to address some of the key issues that have been highlighted by the United Nations and human rights organisations.
For instance, it makes no mention of laws banning girls from going to school, forbidding women from working, and stipulating that women must be fully covered at all times outside their homes.
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