Break the Chain War Against Women

Updated (2/1/2003) This petition understandably grew in popularity following the events of September 11 and the subsequent military action in Afghanistan. The Taliban has since been removed from power, too bad this chain letter can't similarly be "removed."

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

The Taliban's War on Women:

**** Please Sign at the bottom to support and include your town. If you receive this list with more than 50 names on it, please email a copy of it to sarabande@brandeis.edu

Even if you decide not to sign, please be considerate and do not kill the petition. Thank you. It is best to copy rather than forward the petition.

Melissa Buckheit
Brandeis University

The government of Afghanistan is waging a war upon women. The situation is getting so bad that one person in an editorial of the times compared the treatment of women there to the treatment of Jews in pre-holocaust Poland. Since the Taliban took power in 1996, women have had to wear burqua and have been beaten and stoned in public for not having the proper attire, even if this means simply not having the mesh covering in front of their eyes.

One woman was beaten to DEATH by an angry mob of fundamentalists for accidentally exposing her arm while she was driving.

Another was stoned to death for trying to leave the country with a man that was not a relative. Women are not allowed to work or even go out in public without a male relative; professional women such as professors, translators, doctors, lawyers, artists and writers have been forced from their jobs and stuffed into their homes, so that depression is becoming so widespread that it has reached emergency levels.

There is no way in such an extreme Islamic society to know the suicide rate with certainty, but relief workers are estimating that the suicide rate among women, who cannot find proper medication and treatment for severe depression and would rather take their lives than live in such conditions, has increased significantly.

Homes where a woman is present must have their windows painted so that she can never be seen by outsiders. They must wear silent shoes so that they are never heard. Women live in fear of their lives for the slightest misbehavior. Because they cannot work, those without male relatives or husbands are either starving to death or begging on the street, even if they hold Ph.D.'s.

There are almost no medical facilities available for women, and relief workers, in protest, have mostly left the country, taking medicine and psychologists and other things necessary to treat the sky-rocketing level of depression among women.

At one of the rare hospitals for women, a reporter found still, nearly lifeless bodies lying motionless on top of beds, wrapped in their burqua, unwilling to speak, eat or do anything, but are slowly wasting away. Others have gone mad and were seen crouched in corners, perpetually rocking or crying, most of them in fear. One doctor is considering, when what little medication that is left finally runs out, leaving these women in front of the president's residence as a form of peaceful protest.

It is at the point where the term 'human rights violations' have become an understatement.

Husbands have the power of life and death over their women relatives, especially their wives, but an angry mob has just as much right to stone or beat a woman, often to death, for exposing an inch of flesh or offending them in the slightest way.

David Cornwell has told me that we in the United States should not judge the Afghan people for such treatment because it is a 'cultural thing', but this is not even true. Women enjoyed relative freedom, to work, dress generally as they wanted, and drive and appear in public alone until only 1996 -- the rapidity of this transition is the main reason for the depression and suicide; women who were once educators or doctors or simply used to basic human freedoms are now severely restricted and treated as sub-human in the name of right-wing fundamentalist Islam. It is not their tradition or 'culture', but is alien to them, and it is extreme even for those cultures where fundamentalism is the rule. Besides, if we could excuse everything on cultural grounds, then we should not be appalled that the Carthaginians sacrificed their infant children, that little girls are circumcised in parts of Africa, that blacks in the deep south in the 1930's were lynched, prohibited from voting and forced to submit to unjust Jim Crow laws.

Everyone has a right to a tolerable human existence, even if they are women in a Muslim country in a part of the world that Americans do not understand.

If we can threaten military force in Kosovo in the name of human rights for the sake of ethnic Albanians, Americans can certainly express peaceful outrage at the oppression, murder and injustice committed against women by the Taliban.

*************
STATEMENT:

In signing this, we agree that the current treatment of women in Afghanistan is completely UNACCEPTABLE and deserves support and action by the people of the United States and the U.S. Government and that the current situation overseas will not be tolerated. Women's Rights is not a small issue anywhere and it is UNACCEPTABLE for women in 1998 to be treated as sub-human and so much as property. Equality and human decency is a RIGHT not a freedom, whether one lives in Afghanistan or the United States.*****

(*** To add your name to the petition, simply highlight all of the text, and in "EDIT" click on "COPY". Then start a new EMAIL, and after addressing it to your mailing list, and adding a subject line, go to the body of the EMAIL letter, and in "EDIT" click on "PASTE." This will give you everything that you copied. Now go to the bottom of the document, add your name. The document is now ready to send.)

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

The Taliban was no doubt guilty of serious human rights violations. Unfortunately, the author of this message overestimated the ability of e-petitions to effect change. Melissa Buckheit was not authorized by Brandeis University to send her petition and the school quickly shut down her account just days after her petition started due to the large volume of responses it generated.

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The United States' Operation Enduring Freedom was successful in deposing the Taliban government in Afghanistan. A version of this petition on PetitionsOnline, a free Internet service, was promptly shut down after the fall of the Taliban. Unfortunately, there's no effective way to "shut down" an e-mail petition. This chain letter's popularity has waned, but it still circulates, often changed to remove references to the Taliban. People are passionate about human rights and often act without thinking when they see what they believe is an easy way to defend them - after all, what can it hurt?

Suzanne Dathe may have the answer to that question. She was one of the first people to 'sign' this petition. Due to the "add your name" nature of these petitions, her name remains on most copies of it. As a result, she bitterly regrets signing it. She continues to get calls and e-mails from people who believe she originated it or who want additional information. To complicate matters further, several similar petitions have used this one as a model, keeping intact the first few signatures. As a result, she's been attached to 'causes' she's never seen. She now warns everyone she talks with against e-petitions. Read "Armchair Activism" in the Chain-Breaker's Library for more reasons e-petitions are a bad idea.

Human rights violations are still committed in many parts of the world, but e-mail petitions will do little to quash them. Break this Chain!

What Do You Think?

Category: Armchair Activism
References: About.com

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