U.N. Addresses Taliban Women
.c The Associated Press
GENEVA (AP) - The outside world cannot tolerate the mistreatment of women by Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia and must force it to improve the situation, a U.N. investigator told the world organization's main rights body Monday.
Radhika Coomaraswamy, the U.N. expert on violence against women who visited the country last September, said any improvements fall far short of what is needed for the Islamic army's government to be recognized.
``The international community cannot tolerate the situation in Afghanistan,'' the Sri Lankan expert told the 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission.
``No regime anywhere in the world that treats women the Taliban way should be allowed access to the community of nations,'' she added.
``Many U.N. personnel on the ground cautioned me against being too harsh, saying that things were gradually improving,'' said Coomaraswamy, citing laws that allow girls aged 6-10 to attend mosque schools, widows to tend fields and Red Cross hospitals to treat women.
But ``these are paltry, incremental changes and the agencies on the ground are missing the wood for the trees,'' she said.
Coomaraswamy attacked the Taliban's ministry of vice and virtue for issuing ``the most inhuman edicts against women.''
The department has authored edicts that ban women from working or going to school, forced them to wear the all-encompassing burqa and ordered people to paint first-floor windows black so passers by could not see women inside.
It also issued edicts saying women should travel outside their home only when accompanied by a close male relative. Ministry employees roam the streets of the capital, Kabul, looking for women violating the edicts. Violators are publicly beaten.
``Though I do not advocate the cutting of humanitarian aid, there is no doubt in my mind that all other mechanisms ... should be used to stop what in feminist language would be called large-scale, systematic femicide,'' Coomaraswamy said.
``I don't think this is anything to do with Islam,'' but more with tribal codes, she added.
The Taliban rule 90 percent of Afghanistan. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the only countries to recognize their government.
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