Senator Raises Concerns For Women In Afghanistan
At today's Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the $87 billion supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) raised concerns about vulnerable populations in Afghanistan and Iraq, including women. She pointed to a Human Rights Watch Report and threats against girls going to school as examples of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.
At the hearing today, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld pointed out that 75 percent of the $87 billion for Afghanistan and Iraq will go to the troops "who are risking their lives in this struggle" in Iraq and Afghanistan. Only $1.2 billion is included for Afghanistan, out of which only $300 million is designated for the construction of roads, school and clinics.
Even though Rumsfeld stated that what the international peacekeeping troops (ISAF) are "doing is important for Afghanistan" and the commander of the United States Central Command, General John Abizaid, acknowledged that Al Qaeda and Taliban forces "are conducting low-level guerilla and terrorist attacks" in Afghanistan "to obstruct reconstruction efforts and incite chaos," neither made any mention of the desperate need to expand the international peacekeeping troops (ISAF) beyond Kabul.
Meanwhile, according to the New York Times, 45 women presented President Hamid Karzai with their own Afghan Women's Bill of Rights in Kandahar. This document guarantees an education, health care, personal security, and support for widows with the freedom to vote, to speech, and with a guarantee of right to orphans, disabled women and widows.
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Media Resources: New York Times 9/24/03; Rumsfeld's testimony to the Senate 9/24/03; Abizaid's testimony to the Senate 9/24/03