The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Burqa stages a comeback in Afghanistan

London, Dec. 18: Taliban-style oppression of women is returning to many parts of Afghanistan, according to rights campaigners.

Girls’ schools are destroyed by gunmen, women are forced to have medical examinations for chastity and girls are made to wear the burkha, says a 52-page study by the American group Human Rights Watch.

The report singled out the Herat warlord Ismail Khan, a key ally of America. It said women could go to school and work, but in many areas were seriously restricted by government troops and officials invoking vague edicts on dress and behaviour.

In Herat, Khan had set up religious and youth police to haul women and girls to hospitals for gynaecological checks. Many people outside the country thought women “have had their rights restored”, said Zama Coursen-Neff, the report’s co-author. “It’s just not true.”

Donor nations promised Afghanistan $1.24 billion today to help rebuild the war-wrecked country in 2003 with projects ranging from roads to educating girls barred from schools. Afghanistan’s government hoped after a two-day meeting of 23 nations in Oslo that pledges would be kept even if the US went to war against Iraq.

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