To the Editor:
An article in yesterday’s News mentioned the “rumored Taliban practice of removing the nails of women who wear noticeable nail polish” (“Alumni clash over Hashemi,” 3/20). The Taliban’s history and policy of human rights violations are not “rumored.” They are wide-ranging and well documented.
While Rahmatullah Hashemi toured the United States as an official apologist for the Taliban, some brave Afghanis risked their lives to document and smuggle out proof of human rights abuses committed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is because of their efforts that the world saw hidden-camera footage of a woman being shot to death in a sports stadium.
A few of the many documented human rights violations by the Taliban include a ban on women’s work outside the home, a ban on women’s travel outside the home without a man, a ban on women’s education, requirement to wear a burka, punishment by stoning for premarital sex and a ban on the use of cosmetics and nail polish. Those who defied the Taliban’s oppressive rules endured beatings, torture or death.
The Taliban are still waging a campaign of terror against the Afghani people. In the most recent issue of Vanity Fair, Sebastian Junger reports on current Taliban atrocities, including skinning a man alive and forcing another to watch his wife while she was gang-raped. The Taliban are still fighting to regain control. Just one week ago, four American soldiers were killed by a Taliban bomb. I can only hope and assume the lack of outrage on campus over the Taliban is due to ignorance. After all, the News reported that Taliban atrocities were “rumored.”
During my time at Yale, I was a coordinator of the Yale Women’s Center. As a feminist, I am surprised there have been no vocal protests on campus or calls for Yale to answer questions about this decision. This is not and should not be portrayed as a partisan issue. It is not a referendum on Bush, the war, the presence of American troops in Afghanistan or the recent Supreme Court decision on military recruiting. It is about Yale’s decision to recruit the former spokesman of a brutal regime.
Has Yale really slipped into such complacency that the Taliban’s crimes against women and the Afghani people barely merit a shrug? If Rahmatullah has truly disavowed all connection with the Taliban and regrets his involvement, he should step forward publicly to take responsibility for his actions and to apologize to the victims of the Taliban.
Debbie Bookstaber ’00
March 20, 2006
The writer is an organizer for the NailYale Campaign.