CNN, July 14, 2000
Afghan women unite in cyberspace against Taliban repression
- From Interactive Correspondent Allison Tom
ATLANTA (CNN) -- The fight for democracy and the rights of women in Afghanistan is being seen and heard with the help of today's modern technology
The Internet has become instrumental in drawing attention to the cause, and an independent political organization called the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, is using cyberspace as the key tool in spreading the word.
"It really was the only tool that enabled us to be in contact with other people in other countries and we think it is the only tool that can tell people around the world about the suffering of our people, of our women and children and the way that they can help us," RAWA lobbyist 'Sajeda' told CNN.
'Sajeda' does not show her face and uses a fake name to protect her identity.
She and another activist are currently in the United States telling people about life in Afghanistan under the Taliban rule.
No school, no work, no play
In recent years, the Islamic Taliban has imposed new restrictions on women; particularly in employment, travel and education.
"Taliban officially announced all of these restrictions on women, that they are not allowed to go to school, they are not allowed to work, not allowed to go outside without being accompanied with a close male relative."
RAWA's Web site carries photos, documents and reports of alleged atrocities in Afghanistan.
Offline, emails are shared with women in refugee camps and inside Afghanistan who do not have access to the Internet.
"They, with tears in their eyes, they say -- so we are not alone and there are still people they take care about our suffering and they want to help us," 'Sehar' said.
Others, including Mavis Nicholson Leno agree that the Internet has a profound impact on humanitarian issues. Leno, wife of U.S. television comedian Jay Leno, is a spokesperson for the Feminist Majority Foundation.
"It creates a brilliant way to have a very active participation in world politics, particularly with regard to human rights, a way that was never available to people without the Internet," Leno said.
And for RAWA, the Web also acts as a virtual headquarters for the group. The site is administered by supporters in Pakistan.
RELATED SITES:Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)
Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Afghan Info Center
Taleban Islamic Movement Official Web Site Home Page
CIA: The World Factbook 1999: Afghanistan
[RAWA in Media] [Interview with New York Times Magazine]
[RAWA web site on About.com] [RAWA web site in Yahoo! Internet Life Magazine]