, THE plight of many Afghan women has barely improved in the two years since the removal of the Taliban regime, with forced marriages, rapes and domestic violence still occurring frequently, Amnesty International says.

In a report to be released today, the London-based human rights group accuses the international community of failing to do enough in this war-torn country, where most women are still cloistered at home and wear body-shrouding burkas in public.

The ultraconservative Taliban regime, which was toppled by a US-led invasion in 2001, had banned women from working and girls from school. The Afghan Government has since lifted those restrictions, but in rural areas where it has little authority many women still cannot work or girls be educated.

“Nearly two years on, discrimination, violence, and insecurity remain rife, despite promises by world leaders, including (US) President (George W) Bush and US Secretary of State Colin Powell, that the war in Afghanistan would bring liberation for women,” the report says.

“The situation is unacceptable and calls for urgent action.”

The report is called, Afghanistan: No one listens to us and no one treats us as human beings. Justice denied to women. It documents instances of widespread violence, forced marriage and rape.

In some cases, Amnesty says, girls as young as 8 years-old are married to much older men.

In August, the group said that women were being discriminated against, with the system “failing to protect victims of rape, domestic violence and forced underage marriage”.

“Girls and women are being prosecuted for engaging in consensual sexual activity