The day was much like any other. For the young Afghan mother, the only difference was that her child was feverish and had been for some time and needed to see a doctor. But simple tasks in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan today are not that easy. The mother was alone and the doctor was across town. She had no male relative to escort her. To ask another man to do so would be to risk severe punishment. To go on her own meant that she would risk flogging. Because she loved her child, she had no choice. Donning the tent-like burqa as Taliban law required, she set out, cradling her child in her arms. She shouldn't have. As they approached the market, she was spotted by a teenage Taliban guard who tried to stop her. Intent on saving her child, the mother ignored him, hoping that he would ignore her. He didn't. Instead he raised his weapon and shot her repeatedly. Both mother and child fell to the ground. They survived because bystanders in the market intervened to save them. The young Taliban guard was unrepentant -- fully supported by the regime. The woman should not have been out alone. This mother was just another casualty in the Taliban war on Afghanistan's women, a war that began when the Taliban seized control of Kabul.
On May 29,  Layla living in Khairkhana, Kabul, who was five months pregnant left her house for a routine pregnancy check-up at the nearby Parwan Maternity Clinic. She was dressed head-to-foot in the prescribed chadari [also called burqa] which only allowed a grill through which she could look out but even her eyes could not be seen. She had to wrap her self carefully in the chadari, as allowing her dress to be seen was against the imposed dress code. Halfway to the clinic she felt suffocated and felt an urgent need for fresh air. Turning into a deserted lane she raised her veil and drew deep breaths, relishing the feeling of relief. Suddenly a scourge-wielding Taliban militiaman screaming abuse materialised out of nowhere. Why have you bared your face! Why have you bared your face! he kept screaming while he poured out the vilest invectives. His whip hand was raised and before Layla could say anything the blow landed on her distended abdomen. Layla could only scream Bradar jan, [brother, dear], dont hit me, I am with child, I am going to the clinic but the frenzied Taliban kept raining down blows on the miserable woman. The pain and the terror made Layla sit down on the dirt and the Taliban went away after a few more vicious blows of the lash. None of the few passers-by could dare to intercede.
By now Layla was bleeding but both she and one or two passers-by knew that she could not hope for a helping hand as there were no women around and it is against Taliban ethics and edicts for a male to touch any female other than close family members. Any man extending a helping hand to a woman in need was sure to receive the same treatment that had been meted out to Layla a moment ago. Layla could only drag herself to the clinic where she passed out. When she came to she was drenched in blood and the nurses told her that she had had a miscarriage. They sounded very worried about her own condition and it was not long before she lost consciousness again. The following day she developed a soaring temperature and doctors diagnosed peritonitis. They recommended abdominal surgery but before they could obtain the necessary go-ahead from the Taliban authorities Layla breathed her last.
Restrictions Placed on Women by the Taliban http://www.islamfortoday.com/afghanistanwomen4.htm
Some of the restrictions the Taliban have placed upon Women: Complete ban on women working outside their homes, including teachers, doctors and engineers. Complete restriction on women's movement outside of their houses without a mahram (father, brother or husband). Ban on dealing with male shopkeepers. Ban on being treated by a male doctor. Ban on studying at school, university or any other educational institution. Compulsory wearing of a long veil (Burqa) which covers women from head to toe.
Whipping, beating and verbal abuse of women whose Burqa is not worn in accordance to Taliban rules. The same applies to women found in public without a mahram. Public stoning of women for having sex outside marriage. Ban on all use of make-up (a number of women's fingers have been amputated for having painted nails). A ban on women talking or shaking hands with non-mahram males. A ban on women laughing loudly (no stranger should hear the voice of a woman). A ban on wearing high heeled shoes which would produce sound while walking as hearing the sound of a woman's step is forbidden. A ban on women using a taxi without a mahram.
Banning women's presence in radio, television and gatherings of any kind. Banning women from playing any sport or entering a sports center or club. A ban on women wearing brightly colored clothing (in their terms "sexually attracting colors"). Banning women's gatherings on festive occasions such as the Eids or for a recreational purpose. Banning women from washing clothes next to rivers or at public places. All place names with the word 'women' in it have been changed. For example "women's garden" has been renamed "spring garden".
Banning women appearing on the balcony of their apartments or houses. Compulsory painting of all windows so women can not be seen from the outside. Banning male tailors from taking measurements or sewing women's clothes. Public buses have been separated into male and female buses. A ban on being photographed or filmed. A ban on women's pictures being printed on newspapers and books or even hung their own houses. Ban on listening to music, not for women but for men as well. Total ban on watching movies, television and video for everyone.
Womens Comments on Burqas "They erode all sense of identity and are about as demeaning as clothing can get. On a practical level, they are also dangerous in that one's scope of vision is so impaired." "I feel safe when I wear it. I can't see everybody or everywhere, but no one can see me."
Many Women Still Opt to Wear Burqas for Safety Reasons The burqa, a symbol of Taliban repression of women, remains a common sight in Afghanistan…after the hard-line government was ousted by U.S. forces. In Kabul, more than half of the women wear burqas, while outside the capital virtually all women are clad in head-to-toe covering. A good burqa costs anywhere from $8 to $12. With the average salary at $40 a month, it is a major expenditure for Afghans.
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