When we liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban there was much rejoicing in the media about all sorts of wonderful things that were to happen, Women's rights would be restored -- to study, to work, to dress as they pleased, etc. Freedom of expression and arts activities were to be restored -- people were to be allowed to perform and listen to music, watch television, etc. In short, iindividual freedoms were to be restored. And a democratic government was to be developed. It seems that things haven't quite worked out that way. We all know that the central government does not control most of the country, that most regions are controlled by local warlords -- a polite name for brutal thugs with their own armies, etc. They not only resist the authority of the central government but they have started fighting with each other. But what about the other things, women's rights and individual fredoms? Things do not seem to too rosy there, either, and these things are just beginning to get media notice. A couple of items reported in the last couple of days. On womeen's rights-- WOMEN IN WESTERN AFGHANISTAN SUFFERING. Human Rights Watch (HRW) on 17 December released a report entitled "'We Want to Live as Humans': Repression of Women and Girls in Western Afghanistan" (http://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/afghnwmn1202). The HRW report is especially critical of Herat Province Governor Ismail Khan and Reuters quoted report co-author Zama Coursen-Neff as saying: "Ismail Khan has created an atmosphere in which government officials and private individuals believe they have the right to police every aspect of women's and girls' lives: how they dress, how they get around town, what they say." The report describes forced gynecological examinations as chastity checks, as well as bans on walking or riding in automobiles alone with a man or men to whom a woman is not closely related. Women are not allowed to drive cars; nor may they ride bicycles. The report describes other restrictions that curtail women's ability to attend school or to work. HRW also criticized Ismail Khan in a November 2002 report entitled "All Our Hopes Are Crushed: Violence and Repression in Western Afghanistan" (http://hrw.org/reports/2002/afghan3). BS From: RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 6, No. 236, Part III, 18 December 2002 Then we have this on cultural freedom -- Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 11:52 GMT Afghans ban 'obscene' TV Afghanistan's Supreme Court has banned cable television stations in the eastern city of Jalalabad because they have been showing films it considers un-Islamic. The court ruled that cable operators were showing "obscene" Western and Indian films and said they were totally against Islam, Afghan culture and the spirit of jihad (holy war). More at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2590311.stm BAH.