Afghanistan followed the same fate as dozens of formerly Soviet-occupied
countries after the collapse of Moscow's Marxist government in 1991. Islamic
factions, which had united to expel the Russian occupiers in 1992, began to
fight among themselves when it became apparent that post-communist coalition
governments could not overcome the deep-rooted ethnic and religious differences
of the members. It was in this atmosphere of economic strife and civil war that
a fundamentalist band of religious students emerged victorious. By 1996, this
group, the Taliban, ruled 90% of the country with a controversial holy iron
hand. The other 10% of the country is tenaciously held by minority opposition
groups led by president Rabbani and military commander Ahmed Shah Massoud and
aided by foreign Taliban adversaries. This Northern Alliance shares critics'
objections to the Taliban's extreme fundamentalist methods and especially scorns

Pashtun ethnic chauvinism. Today only Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and

Saudi Arabia recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate ruling party. The

United Nations still considers Massoud head of State, the US advocates a broad
based government and others favor Rabbani, Zahir Shah, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar or
other opponents as rulers of Afghanistan. The Taliban claim to follow a pure,
fundamentalist Islamic ideology, yet the oppression they perpetrate against
women has no basis in Islam. Within Islam, women are allowed to earn and control
their own money, and to participate in public life. The 55-member Organization
of Islamic Conference has refused to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan's
official government. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, regarded by many as an
ultraconservative, fundamentalist organization, has denounced the Taliban's
decrees. Female employment and education is restricted or banned. Women must
stay at home. If necessary, women who do leave the house must be accompanied by
a male relative and cover themselves with a burqa (an ankle-length veil with a
mesh-like opening in front of the eyes). Non-religious music, cassette tapes, TV
and movies are all banned. Multi-colored signs are prohibited. White socks are
forbidden (either because they are considered a sexual lure or because they
resemble Afghanistan's flag). Children cannot fly kites, play chess or play with
the pigeons since it distracts them from their religious studies. Men must wear
beards or face prison until their shaven whiskers grow back. Paper bags are
banned since the paper might have been recycled from old Korans and lower level
windows must be blackened to prevent males from inadvertently catching women in
compromising states. In order to guarantee that men and women observe the new
rules, the Taliban have employed a moral police force (Agents for the

Preservation of Virtue and Elimination of Vice) to search for violators. The
purported brutal treatment of offenders by the moral police has led Amnesty

International to classify the conduct a "reign of terror." Prior to
the Civil War and Taliban control, especially in Kabul, the capital, women in

Afghanistan were educated and employed: 50% of the students and 60% of the
teachers at Kabul University were women, and 70% of school teachers, 50% of
civilian government workers, and 40% of doctors in Kabul were women. Some
examples of gender apartheid follow: A woman who dared to defy Taliban orders by
running a home school for girls was shot and killed in front of her husband,
daughter, and students. A woman caught trying to flee Afghanistan with a man not
related to her was stoned to death for adultery. An elderly woman was brutally
beaten with a metal cable until her leg was broken because her ankle was
accidentally showing from underneath her burqa. Women have died of treatable
ailments because male doctors were not allowed to treat them. Many women, now
forcibly housebound, have attempted suicide by swallowing household cleaner,
rather than continuing to live under these conditions. 97% of Afghan women
surveyed by Physicians for Human Rights exhibit signs of major depression. The

Taliban creates fallacies t maintain control. The following is an excerpt from
____ newspaper in 199_. The Taliban emerged in early 1994 from the Sunni
religious schools (called madrassat) near Quetta, Pakistan, at a time when
factional fighting and resulting lawlessness were at their height. Originally a
small band of warriors from the majority Pashtoon tribe, their numbers swelled
as they met with increasing success. Their take-over of the southern Afghan city
of Kandahar, in April 1994, was welcomed by its citizens, who had long suffered
under corrupt and brutal mujehadeen commanders. The Taliban (the name derives
from the Arabic word for student) quickly established order in Kandahar,
disarming all factions and the general population. The Taliban leader of the
faithful, amir ul-momineen, Mohammed Omar, is a former mujahedin and is a mullah
from Kandahar.