Karzai Signs Law Gutting Women’s Rights?

There is a lot missing from this article, “Worse Than The Taliban,”  in the Guardian, and a few things that (to someone who has a decent grasp of how the National Assembly works) don’t make any sense, but I really, really don’t like how this is looking already.

Hamid Karzai has been accused of trying to win votes in Afghanistan’s presidential election by backing a law the UN says legalises rape within marriage and bans wives from stepping outside their homes without their husbands’ permission.

The Afghan president signed the law earlier this month, despite condemnation by human rights activists and some MPs that it flouts the constitution’s equal rights provisions.

The final document has not been published, but the law is believed to contain articles that rule women cannot leave the house without their husbands’ permission, that they can only seek work, education or visit the doctor with their husbands’ permission, and that they cannot refuse their husband sex.

A briefing document prepared by the United Nations Development Fund for Women also warns that the law grants custody of children to fathers and grandfathers only.

Senator Humaira Namati, a member of the upper house of the Afghan parliament, said the law was “worse than during the Taliban”. “Anyone who spoke out was accused of being against Islam,” she said.

The Afghan constitution allows for Shias, who are thought to represent about 10% of the population, to have a separate family law based on traditional Shia jurisprudence. But the constitution and various international treaties signed by Afghanistan guarantee equal rights for women.

Shinkai Zahine Karokhail, like other female parliamentarians, complained that after an initial deal the law was passed with unprecedented speed and limited debate.“They wanted to pass it almost like a secret negotiation,” she said. “There were lots of things that we wanted to change, but they didn’t want to discuss it because Karzai wants to please the Shia before the election.”

Although the ministry of justice confirmed the bill was signedby Karzai at some point this month, there is confusion about the full contents of the final law, which human rights activists have struggled to obtain a copy of. The justice ministry said the law would not be published until various “technical problems” had been ironed out.

Can my Afghanistan-based and formerly Afghanistan-based readers make sense of this?

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4 thoughts on “Karzai Signs Law Gutting Women’s Rights?

  1. you said all there was to say about the article in that it has quite a few things missing. the author clearly does not know what he is writing about and has not even done the basic research into the shia jurisprudence and why in afghanistan a different set of laws for the personal affairs of the shia is being passed -and instead has just taken a pen and a notepad and talked to a few people and then written a story about it. precisely what is wrong with a lot of western media reporting from afghanistan. don’t even ask me about that recent bbc story on kabul cops. my lord. these people would not be able to get away with this low quality reporting anywhere else in the world and they must view afghanistan posting as holidays where they can just frequent the bars and talk to some people and have no accountability because their audience in the west would take most of what they write for granted -present company excluded of course- and they have little in the way of an audience in afghanistan would would be able to scrutinize them. i know a few things about the basic law enacted that it refers to, and am surprised at the angle that the author has taken with regards to the law -in that if anything, the law would have definitely had to be more liberal with regards to women’s rights, etc. again, a piece with no beginning, no end, and no middle. thrash in the way of reporting, if there was ever such a thing.

  2. I don’t know about the bill itself but generally, the Meshrano and Wolesi Jirgas have to approve it before it gets to the President. Also, the Ministry of Justice has to review and make sure the law is in line with the Constitution and international treaties signed.

    Also, from what I understand, Islamic law comes into play when there is a gap in the national law. Also, the national laws should be in line with Islamic law (this phrase in the Constitution is still debated or ignored, depending on the person).

    I plan to discuss the process of law-making in Afghanistan on my-so-far-inert blog…

    • “ask for Canada’s ten billion dollars back from them.”

      Because that would surely make things better for everyone, and would be a responsible and certainly not knee-jerk response to the issue at hand.

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