There is an immense problem occurring to women of the Islamic world. In many parts of the world, especially the United States and Britain, girl power, as many girl bands refer to is growing rapidly. More and more, women are having more rights and privileges. But in many Islamic countries, including Afghanistan, Jordan, Togo, and Pakistan this girl power is hiding behind the burqa, a heavy, dark piece of clothing that surrounds the body, with only a small mesh window to see through. It is a great struggle for a female to survive in the Islamic world. The lives of hundreds of thousands of Afghan women and children have been traumatized in the human rights disaster that has devastated Afghanistan in the past three years.

Thousands have been killed in artillery attacks. The Taliban, a right-wing militia group, seized control of the Central Asian nation's in 1996 and began a discriminating war against women. Many teenage girls are banned from attending school, and are not allowed out without a male relative; if she does go out, she has to be fully clothed with a burqa, which covers her head to toe, with a mesh window to see. Male doctors are not allowed to examine women, and since only a small amount of women are allowed to practice medicine-if the woman gets sick, she may die. Punishment for breaking the laws is severe. If women are not with a man, they get beaten.

If their ankle shows under the burqa, their foot will be amputated. Also, if they wear white, the color of the Taliban flag or their shoes make noise, they get beaten or amputated. I think these punishments are so severe for these little mistakes made. Every Friday people meet at the coliseum in Kabul, the capital to watch amputations, stoning and executions of people who have disobeyed the Taliban laws. In Pakistan and Jordan, honor killings are very common.

Women are murdered every day for supposedly betraying the honor of their husband or family. Jordanian law excuses these murders as somehow acceptable, which completely brings down women's lives", said Regan E. Ralph, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch's Women's Rights division. An average of twenty-five to thirty women are killed in Jordan each year in the name of honor. In most cases, a girl or woman is murdered by a family member because they suppose that the woman has violated her husband.

Women in Pakistan live in fear. They face death by shooting, burning or killing with axes if they are thought to have brought shame on the family. They are killed for supposed 'illegal' relationships, for marrying men of their choice, for divorcing abusive husbands. They are even murdered by their family if they are raped as they are thereby thought to have brought shame on their family. In parts of Africa, like Togo, FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) is a very common practice. It is also known as female circumcision.

The number of mutilated women and girls in Africa and the Middle East is increasing gradually because of the population growth. These dangerous operations result in permanent health damage: hemorrhage and shock, which may be deadly; infections including tetanus, scarring which stops normal childbirth and may result in death of both mother and baby; and fertility due to infections. The operations are performed on children only a few days old up to puberty, depending on the ethnic groups. They cause urinary and menstrual problems, coldness, and painful intercourse. A tribal woman using an unsterilized knife does the job without anesthesia, usually. My culture says it keeps a girl clean and makes her the best wife a man can have, says Fauziya.

I find it so disturbing to hear that females are forced to be mutilated in the genital area, especially without and professional medical treatment. After writing this report and reading articles about these Islamic women living in fear, I have realized how devastating it is to live through this struggle on a daily basis. After so many years of women fighting for their rights across the world, there are still countries that have women that are being targeted for assassination, abduction and rape. These abuses are being committed without suffering by government forces and armed political groups who are prepared to terrorize the national population in order to secure and strengthen their power bases. Sources I used: + Seventeen magazine October 1999. Pg 166-169 + Muslim Women's League web + Amnesty International web.