Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Government to Recreate Taliban ‘Vice Squad’

As reported in The Australian, by Christina Lamb, the Afghan government in Kabul is set to recreate the Department for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. This was “set up by the Taliban to enforce bans on women doing anything from working to wearing nail varnish or laughing out loud,” Lamb says.

“The decision has provoked an outcry among women and human rights activists who fear a return to the days when religious police patrolled the streets, beating or arresting any woman who was not properly covered by a burka or accompanied by a male relative,” reports Lamb.

According to the report, “President Hamid Karzai’s cabinet has approved the proposal to re-establish the department, and the measure will go to Afghanistan’s parliament when it reconvenes.” Lamb says that “the conservative complexion of the assembly makes it likely to be passed.”

Nematullah Shahrani, the religious affairs minister who will oversee the department, claims “it will focus on alcohol, drugs and corruption.” However, “critics say that Afghanistan’s criminal laws already address these issues and claim that once the department has been re-established, it will be easy to misuse.”

In her report Lamb says that “Afghan women recall with horror the department’s religious police who ruthlessly enforced religious restrictions through public beatings and imprisonment under Taliban rule from 1996-2001. She also reports that “the department banned women from educating their daughters in home-based schools as well as working or begging, leaving thousands of widows with no means of supporting their families.” Lamb says that “they also beat men for trimming their beards, which had to be at least the length of a fist.”

To read this article in full click here.


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