MICHELE NORRIS, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
At least 10 members of the Taliban are in the process of being removed from a U.N. blacklist. That's according to the United Nations' special representative to Afghanistan. The move comes at the request of Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. It's seen as a step toward peace talks that both military and political leaders agree are the only way to end the nine-year-old insurgency.
But what would a deal with the Taliban look like for women in Afghanistan? NPR's Quil Lawrence reports from Kabul that negotiations are not looking so good to everyone.
QUIL LAWRENCE: Living under the Taliban is a bitter memory for many women in Afghanistan and a daily reality for others, who live in parts of the country where the radical Islamists have de facto control.
Unidentified Woman: (Speaking foreign language)
LAWRENCE: Each day when I go outside, I think it could be my last, said a government employee in Kandahar who asked not to reveal her name. She said she continues working, despite threats from the Taliban toward her specifically, and threats more generally toward all women who work outside the home - or worse, women who work in contact with foreigners. The Taliban have made good on many of the threats.
Unidentified Woman: (Speaking foreign language)
LAWRENCE: She added that for security, she wears a burqa, a head to toe garment. She wears a different color each day and never goes the same route to and from work. The woman said she's interested in peace coming to Afghanistan but isn't sure that a deal with the Taliban would mean real peace for her.
Ms. RACHEL REID (Researcher, Human Rights Watch): When the Taliban get control of an area, that's also what matters. And what we see there are the kinds of abuses that we saw in the Taliban times.
LAWRENCE: Rachel Reid has just released a report on the subject for Human Rights Watch called the Ten-Dollar Talib and Women's Rights. The title refers to the many Taliban insurgents who are believed to be fighting just for money -and a small amount at that.
But it's not those Taliban who will be sitting at the negotiating table, says Reid. She says some in the international community are trying to forget how brutal the Taliban movement is toward women because they're so impatient to reach a peace deal that will allow their troops to come home.
Ms. REID: I think there's a danger in this kind of revisionism about the nature of the movement that needs to be checked. Because if there's not more honesty about the nature of what we're dealing with, then there won't be a suitable deal carved out. And these kinds of issues won't be on the table in the negotiating time.
LAWRENCE: A suitable deal is one that includes some guarantees of a woman's right to work, health care and education, says Reid. And plenty of Afghan women echoed her concerns.
Fawzia Kufi is a member of the Afghan parliament. She says a deal with the Taliban movement would be a disaster and defeat the purpose of coming to Afghanistan in the first place.
Ms. FAWZIA KUFI (Member, Afghan Parliament): It means not only for me but for the women of Afghanistan, hundreds of steps backward. Because I assume one of the reasons for international community to be in Afghanistan is the issue of women's rights, civil society, human rights. And I guess this is one of the reasons your taxpayers fund this war.
LAWRENCE: Kufi says that the hard-core Taliban who would be at the table are also responsible for instability in the region, and she believes they will not change their past behavior. Still, presidential spokesman Waheed Omar said today that the government is pushing ahead according to plan.
Mr. WAHEED OMAR (Presidential Spokesman): Peaceful dialogue with all those who are ready to give up violence, to accept the constitution of Afghanistan, and who are ready to pursue their political ambitions through peaceful means and those were not connected to international terrorists, that the Afghan people should've started negotiating with them.
LAWRENCE: Afghan women are starting to notice that there is no stipulation in there about preserving women's rights. And Fawzia Kufi says their concerns will always be the first thing bargained away.
Ms. KUFI: And it's always easy to forget women, because they don't have weapons, they don't have, you know, they can't fight. That's an easy compromise.
LAWRENCE: Quil Lawrence, NPR News, Kabul.
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