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The BBC's Kate Clarke in Islamabad
"Afghan women have not driven since the Taleban took power"
 real 28k

Thursday, 31 May, 2001, 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK
Taleban ban foreign women drivers
UN aid convoy
Most larger aid bodies employ male drivers
The Taleban authorities in Afghanistan have ordered female aid workers to stop driving.


In future foreign women must not drive cars and must observe the Afghan traditions of our country

Taleban statement
A letter issued by the Taleban religious police says that foreign women driving cars in Afghan cities "is against Afghan traditions and has a negative impact on the environment."

It states that in future, foreign women must not drive cars and must "abide by the regulations of the Islamic Emirate (of Afghanistan)".

The move comes amid increasing tension between the Taleban and the UN over the treatment of foreign aid workers and the use of women employees.

It is not clear how much impact the latest edict will actually have as the UN and larger non-governmental organisations employ Afghan male drivers.

However, Stephanie Bunker, a spokeswoman for the UN in neighbouring Pakistan, said it could affect smaller aid organisations.

Harassment row

On Wednesday, the UN complained about harassment of relief workers by foreign militants in the Taleban, saying it may have to suspend operations if the situation does not improve.

Afghan woman
Afghan women are barred from most jobs
The UN and the Taleban are also embroiled in a dispute about the use of women to help carry out a food survey in Kabul.

The World Food Programme, which runs bakeries in Kabul, wants to use local women to conduct interviews inside people's homes and so target their aid programme more effectively.

High-level talks have so far failed to resolve the issue.

The Taleban have banned women from most jobs, and they are denied access to state-funded education.

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See also:

30 May 01 | South Asia
UN threat to Afghan operations
29 May 01 | South Asia
Afghan UN bread talks fail
20 Jul 00 | South Asia
Ban on Afghan women to stay
11 Jan 00 | South Asia
Afghanistan: Women under Taleban rule
03 Aug 98 | South Asia
Analysis: Who are the Taleban?
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