A threatening Taliban nightletter directed at a named woman
With the Karzai government now urgently looking to cut a deal with elements of the Taliban, the publication by Human Rights Watch of a report on the likely consequences for women is timely.
The 'Ten Dollar Talib' and Women's Rights points out that moves towards reconcilation raises serious concerns about the possible erosion of recently gained rights and freedoms for women.
It describes continuing abuses of women's rights by the Islamist militants and offers recommendations on what should be done to protect these rights.
Women interviewed for the report noted that some of the oppression of the Taliban years has already returned to Afghanistan. Many women had received threatening letters and phone calls telling them to stop working or to remove their daughters from school. Others had received signed 'night letters', such as the one above, which states: "We warn you today on behalf of the Servants of Islam to stop working with infidels. We always know when you are working. If you continue, you will be regarded as enemy of Islam and will be killed.
As we have killed Hossai yesterday whose name was in our list, your name and other women’s names are also on our list."
Another woman who taught in a girls' school received a letter stating "We warn you to leave your job as a teacher as soon as possible otherwise we will cut the heads off your children and shall set fire to your daughter."
The report recommends that the Afghan government commits itself to prioritising the protection of women's human rights and that these rights should be non-negotiable. It says that the full participation of women leaders at the negotiating table will help to ensure these rights are not traded away. It also criticises the amnesty law introduced in January 2010 that provides immunity from prosecution to combatants who agree to join the reconciliation process, saying that this violates Afghanistan's oligations under international law.