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Saturday, 5 May, 2001, 09:22 GMT 10:22 UK
Afghan women appeal to French
Afghan women arrive at the French National Assembly
The three women appeared heavily veiled
Three women from Afghanistan have appeared before the French National Assembly to describe the plight of women in their country under the Taleban.

In a plea for international help, one of the three women - all of whom appeared heavily veiled and using pseudonyms - said the regime treated Afghan women worse than animals.


When one destroys a people, a nation, one starts by destroying the women

Latifa
They say they are the victims of oppression, and their fundamental human rights have been abused.

Since taking control of Kabul in 1996, the Taleban have

  • stopped women from working
  • closed schools for girls aged older than eight years
  • forced women to wear the 'burqa' veil that covers them from head to toe.

After meeting lawmakers and the President of the French Assembly, Raymond Forni, the women appealed for help in mobilising the international community against the Taleban.

'The savagery must cease'

"The savagery in our country must cease, because women are treated worse than animals ... When one destroys a people, a nation, one starts by destroying the women," said one of the women, calling herself Latifa.

'Latifa' - Afghan woman appearing before the French National Assembly
'Latifa': "Women are treated worse than animals"
She did not give her real name for fear of reprisals against her family. The other women identified themselves only as Homa and Diba.

The women, who say they were smuggled out of the Afghan capital, Kabul, several days ago, have already visited the European Parliament in Brussels.

Mr Forni expressed support for the women and horror at their situation. French lawmakers said they would continue not to recognise the Taleban.

Human rights breaches

A United Nations report released in March said all sides in the Afghan conflict are guilty of serious breaches of international human rights laws.

Afghan refugees
Increasing numbers are desperate to leave Afghanistan
The violations include aerial bombardments of civilian targets, reprisal killings of civilians, summary executions of prisoners, rape and torture.

Half a million Afghans fled their homes during 2000 and the start of 2001, and more refugees are expected to leave the country, said the report.

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See also:

04 May 01 | South Asia
UN refugee appeal to Pakistan
03 May 01 | South Asia
Taleban rejects ceasefire
14 Feb 01 | South Asia
UN warns of Afghan catastrophe
23 Mar 01 | South Asia
Afghan feminists go online
11 Jan 00 | South Asia
Afghanistan: Women under Taleban rule
10 Jul 00 | South Asia
Taleban move against women workers
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