"We Want to Live As Humans"

Repression of Women and Girls in Western Afghanistan

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Afghan women and girls have suffered mounting abuses, harassment and restrictions of their fundamental human rights during 2002, Human Rights Watch said in a new report. The 52-page report, "We Want to Live As Humans": Repression of Women and Girls in Western Afghanistan, focuses on the increasingly harsh restrictions on women and girls imposed by Ismail Khan, a local governor in the west of Afghanistan who has received military and financial assistance from the United States. Human Rights Watch said that the situation in Herat was symptomatic of developments across the country, and that women and girls were facing new restrictions in several other regions as well.Human Rights Watch found that women's and girls' rights in Herat had improved since the fall of the Taliban, noting that many women and girls have been allowed to return to school and university, and to some jobs. But the report found that these advances were tempered by growing government repression of social and political life. Ismail Khan has censored women's groups, intimidated outspoken women leaders, and sidelined women from his administration in Herat. Restrictions on the right to work mean that many women will never be able to use their education.

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