Complicit to their evil
Assistant Managing Editor
Yesterday I was walking across the quad, enjoying the beautiful day. There were students lying on the quad, despite the cold, soaking in the autumn sun. Sun becomes rare in the South Bend winter, and we all like to take advantage of it while it lasts.
Now imagine you've been told that you can never again feel the sun on your skin.
Now imagine that the reason for this restriction is your lack of a Y-chromosome. Imagine there are no courts for you to voice a complaint. Imagine that you are under the complete control of the male members of your family.
Welcome to Afghanistan under the Taliban.
Monday, Madeline Albright asked the Taliban to expel Osama bin Laden — the suspected terrorist believed to be behind the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In exchange, the U.S. would offer Afghanistan the chance for "normal relations" with the U.S.
That is completely unacceptable.
The situation in Afghanistan has been called "gender apartheid." Under the guise of "restoring the purity of Islam," the Taliban has required women to wear a burqua — a large garment that covers the entire body — with only a small mesh for the eyes to peer out. No skin may be visible. The windows in women's houses must be painted black.
They never see the sun.
Girls are no longer educated and women no longer work. Nail polish, jewelry, plucked eyebrows, short hair, colorful clothes, sheer stocking, white shoes, high heels and public laughter have been banned for women. The Taliban forbids women to go outside except for an "essential, government-sanctioned" purpose, and then in the company of a male relative. Women have been killed for venturing out alone, even when covered by the burqua. They are not tried and executed — they are shot on the spot by members of the military or "morality police" who are allowed to enforce Taliban rule as they see fit.
Public flogging, beatings, the cutting off of fingers or hands, stoning and execution are common penalties for breaking the myriad laws of the Taliban.
Male doctors are not allowed to treat women, and very few female doctors can practice any longer. Women are suffering from severe osteoporosis because their skin is never exposed to the sun. Suicide is more and more frequent. Visiting doctors have called these women the "living dead." Physicians for Human Rights reports that 97 percent of Afghan women exhibit signs of major depression.
And now the U.S., under pressure from corporations that want Afghani oil or access to Afghani markets, wants to normalize relations with Afghanistan. I have even heard a Notre Dame student say, "Yes, they're repressive, but it's a better system than we have here [in the U.S.] because it's God-centered."
The Taliban is not God-centered. It's hate-
centered, oppression-centered, brutality-centered. If the United States normalizes relations with Afghanistan, it will be a defeat for human rights and morality on an unprecedented scale. It will make us complicit in their crimes against humanity.
And it will doom Afghani women to never seeing the sun again.
The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Inside Stories for Wednesday, October 27, 1999