The lives of hundreds of thousands of Afghan women and children have been shattered in the human rights catastrophe that has devastated Afghanistan over the past few years. Afghan women were required to wear burkas, which are full-body outer garments that covered their whole entire bodies. Their view of the world is distorted by the veil they must wear to cover their eyes. These veils even make it difficult for women to cross the street, because they are unable to see from right to left. The wearing of the burka used to be optional before the Taliban came into power. However, under Taliban rule, oppression of women was at it's worst. Alongside the appalling abuse they encountered, women have been prevented from exercising several of their fundamental rights including the right to vote, to get an education, to obtain employment, and to receive health care benefits. .
Now, with the liberation of Kabul along with other Afghan cities, and help from the United States, women are beginning to return to their rightful roles in society, the ones they choose for themselves. Before the Taliban took over rule of Afghanistan in 1995, women were allowed to vote, hold government office, and were able to work. However, all of these rights came to an abrupt halt under this new government leadership. As mentioned above, it became law for women to wear the burka. Failure to abide by this rule would ensure fines, threats, and public beatings. If any woman revealed any part of her body in public, she risked being beaten or killed as well. Many rural women, especially, claim to wear it willingly, at least when they speak in the presence of their husband's. However, talk to the same woman when her husband is not in hearing distance and she will tell you that "the cloth covering can induce panic, claustrophobia and headaches". To me, like many others it is a symbol of oppression. This furthers the gap between the "us" and "them" notion that most non-Islamic people have around the world, because in our country, like most others in the world, women are doctors, lawyers, teachers, government leaders, and exercise the right to vote.