Women's rights campaign warns of dangers to Afghan women
Web posted at: 6:55 p.m. EDT (2255 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Several prominent women's rights activists came together Wednesday to call attention to alleged human rights abuses against women under Afghanistan's ruling Islamic Taliban regime.
"We (the United States) have led peace efforts in Ireland and we can lead peace efforts in Afghanistan that bring about a permanent peace with democracy and restoration of full human rights for women," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
The foundation organized a nationwide campaign last year with 129 women's groups to raise awareness of the freedoms denied to Afghan women, including access to education and health care, the right to work and freedom of movement.
The Taliban swept into power two years ago and quickly imposed Islamic sharia laws that confined women largely to their homes unless they wear the traditional head-to-toe shroud, called the burga. Women are also required to be accompanied by a close male relative when they go out and are not permitted to make noise.
Mavis Leno, wife of late-night talk show host Jay Leno and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, also appeared at the news conference.
Leno presented a gift of $100,000 from herself and her husband to the organization to help women in Afghanistan and raise awareness of their plight.
Leno said it is impossible to exaggerate the desperate situation Afghan women find themselves in.
"Short of taking away their lives, the Taliban militia has taken away every single thing that we consider a natural basic right of any human being," she said.
The foundation's campaign models itself after the anti- apartheid campaign against South Africa in the 1980s. It hopes to expose U.S. corporations that have business relations with the Taliban and has urged a moratorium on investment in Afghanistan until women's rights are restored.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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