POLL: Afghans’ Criticism of U.S. Efforts Rises; In the Southwest, Taliban Support Grows

While they remain, these forces clearly face danger -- not just from Taliban and other fighters, but from a substantial segment of the population. Seventeen percent of Afghans say attacks on U.S. forces can be justified. That rises to 26 percent in Southwest overall, peaking at 40 percent in Helmand, and about as high, 38 percent in Nangarhar, in the East. And it's 28 percent among Pashtuns, vs. 10 percent among all other Afghans.

WOMEN'S RIGHTS -- Finally, the poll finds majority support for women's rights, albeit not all at levels that are customary in Western societies -- and with striking differences between the sexes and among other groups, particularly in rural vs. urban areas.

Overall, 68 percent of Afghans support women holding jobs outside the home and 60 percent support women holding government office. But while 81 percent of Afghan women support women working outside the home, that falls to 55 percent of men. And while 74 percent of women support women in government, just 46 percent of men agree.

There are sharp differences in intensity of sentiment among urban and rural groups. Among urban women, 66 percent "strongly" support women holding government office; that falls to just 35 percent of rural women, 32 percent of urban men -- and only 15 percent of rural men.

Similarly, 71 percent of urban women strongly support women working outside the home; that falls to 49 percent of rural women, 37 percent of urban men and 19 percent of rural men. Seventy-six percent of urban women strongly support women voting; at the other extreme, just 48 percent of rural men agree.

In another measure, among urban women, just 28 percent strongly support women wearing the burka, the traditional, full-body cloak; that rises to 46 percent among rural women, and 58 percent among rural men.

There are other differences across groups. Ethnic Tajiks are much more apt than more conservative Pashtuns to support women voting, working and holding government positions. In the capital, Kabul, 96 percent of residents support women voting and 93 percent support women holding jobs; in the Southwest just 66 percent support women voting, and just 48 percent support women holding jobs.

Across the country, 60 percent of Afghans give a positive rating to "the rights of women" in their community. But that's down from 71 percent a year ago, down particularly, by 21 points, among women living in rural areas; and by 22 points among unmarried women.

While the condition of women's rights is rated positively by eight in 10 urban men and women alike, that falls to 58 percent of men in rural areas -- and just 48 percent of rural women. And more than three-quarters of Afghanistan's population is rural.

METHODOLOGY -- This survey was conducted for ABC News, the BBC and ARD by Charney Research of New York, with field work by the Afghan Center for Social and Opinion Research in Kabul. Interviews were conducted in person, in Dari or Pashto, among a random national sample of 1,377 Afghan adults from Oct. 28 to Nov. 7, 2007. The results have a 3-point error margin.

Click here for PDF with charts and full questionnaire.

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