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Afghanistan: Rights Group Says Women Still Being Harassed

New York, 17 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A human rights group says that despite the ouster of the hard-line Taliban Islamic regime, women are still being abused, harassed, and threatened all over Afghanistan. In a report today, Human Rights Watch conceded that conditions for women have improved and that they are allowed to go to school and to work. But the New York-based group says that in many areas women still suffer serious restrictions by government and local officials who are imposing "Taliban-era" edicts on dress and behavior.

In its 52-page report, Human Rights Watch singles out Ismail Khan, the governor of Herat, as the most flagrant abuser. It says Ismail Khan has invented a number of draconian measures, bundling women back into the all-enveloping burqa or forcing them to undergo gynecological examinations for the purpose of "chastity checks."

Human Rights Watch says that even President Hamid Karzai's government has moved slowly and notes that the two women cabinet ministers are for women's affairs and health, areas in which female employment is less controversial.