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WorldView

Taliban Shows Some Leniency Toward Women of Afghanistan

Aired January 11, 2000 - 6:14 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: In Afghanistan, the Taliban have imposed strict Islamic rule since taking Kabul in 1996. Since then, they have routinely been criticized for their policies toward women.

But CNN's Nic Robertson reports from Kabul that some small changes are taking place.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hidden from unwanted attention, girls begin their lessons in a tiny make-shift classroom, where they learn writing, mathematics, art and languages. They are among about 50,000 children in Kabul who are being educated in private homes, because the Taliban only provides formal schools for boys. The Taliban are aware of these informal facilities, some funded by international aid organizations, but they are choosing to ignore them rather than close them down.

ERIC DONELLI, UNICEF KABUL: You find a lot of girls going to school in Kabul, and this is a trend which has been increased during the all '99.

ROBERTSON: Afghans have historically given girls' education a lower priority than boys. The Taliban blame their war-ravaged economy for putting boys first now and say their education officials would teach girls if they had the resources.

WAKIL AHMED MATTAWAKIL, TALIBAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): They have -- actually they are facing lack of resources at this time. I think if the United Nations or international community helped them tackle the financial problems, this problem would no more exist.

ROBERTSON: At some of the cities' mosques, a traditional place of education here, several thousand girls are also receiving some schooling.

(on camera): And in recent weeks, an international aid organization has been given permission by the Taliban to educate girls as well as boys in a program for youngsters displaced by last summer's fighting.

(voice-over): The first explicit Taliban sanctioning of girls education, an indication, however small, of changes that point to an evolving relationship not only between the Taliban and aid workers, but also between the Taliban and the people they rule.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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