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Taliban Militia Hints It May Ease Restrictions on Women

November 03, 1996|From Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban restrictions on women that have prompted international condemnation could be lifted once the Islamic group has consolidated its hold over the Afghan capital, a group leader said Friday.

The Taliban militia seized Kabul on Sept. 27, ousting the government in a campaign to install strict Islamic rule. The army, made up largely of former seminary students, closed girls' schools, banned women from working and required them to wear head-to-toe veils. It also ordered men to grow beards and pray regularly.

An alliance of former government soldiers and guerrilla forces has been fighting the Taliban to recapture the capital.

Galaluddin Sheenwari, the Taliban government's deputy minister of religious instruction and one of the most senior Taliban mullahs, said girls' schools would reopen "when there is security in Kabul."

Sheenwari also said it was "possible" women would one day be allowed to work again. Already, some aid groups have been allowed to rehire women.

But Sheenwari's pledges contrast with the Taliban's record elsewhere in Afghanistan.

The Taliban have held uncontested control of Kandahar, about 200 miles south of Kabul, for two years. Schools there are only open to girls aged 4 to 8 who receive just enough instruction to enable them to study the Koran.

In Herat, a provincial capital 300 miles west of Kabul, all schooling for girls has been halted since the Taliban took power a year ago.

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