Taliban defends its policies towards women

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban army that governs most of Afghanistan dismissed as “infidels” international campaigners trying to improve the rights of women living under their strict Islamic rule.
“The Taliban has respect for March 8, which is being called International Women’s Day,” Taliban Deputy Information Minister Abdul Rehman Ottaqi said Sunday. “Islam gives full rights to women and we, too, uphold women’s dignity.”
The Taliban, which controls 85 percent of Afghanistan including the capital, Kabul, has forced women to quit their jobs, closed schools for girls and forbidden women to appear outside their homes without the all-enveloping garment known as the burqa. Women who travel with an unrelated male can be stoned to death.
A seven-women panel, led by European Union Human Rights Commissioner Emma Bonino, is trying to persuade governments, international groups and prominent individuals to sign an appeal for fewer restrictions on Afghan women.
“We condemn this appeal by Bonino,” said Ottaqi. “She and the others are infidels who want to see women shed their veils and bring humiliation to our traditions and our religion.”
Bonino, who briefly was detained by the Taliban while visiting Kabul last year, says the Taliban has misinterpreted the appeal. She said it is not an attack on Islam, but on the Taliban’s strict interpretation based on tribal culture and tradition.
Ottaqi said the Taliban will reopen schools for girls and let women work “as soon as we can restore peace and security.” The Taliban is fighting an opposition alliance for control of the remaining 15 percent of Afghanistan.