Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I guess it isn’t just the Taliban who want to keep Afghani women under strict male control. Turns out there are many among their elected legislators that feel the same way. How can we tell? Because last week, conservative religious lawmakers blocked passage of The Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The law has already been in effect since 2009 but only by presidential decree. So lawmaker Fawzia Kofi, a women’s rights activist, wanted to codify it by parliamentary vote to prevent a future president from just cancelling it to please hard-liners. But the “hard-liners” seem to be legislators protesting the Law, saying it is anti-Islamic and will undermine men’s authority and encourage women to have sex outside of marriage.

What could be in a law that would make Afghani legislators so outraged? Well, the Law “criminalizes, among other things, child marriage and forced marriage, and bans ‘baad,’ the traditional practice of exchanging girls and women to settle disputes.” WHAT! You mean Afghani men won’t be allowed to marry 10-year old virgins or force young women to marry 60-year old men? And you can’t be serious that they won’t be able to keep the peace between belligerent men by throwing a daughter or niece into the deal.

But one of the biggest sticking points with legislators (some of them women, actually) is the fact that the Law makes domestic violence a crime punishable by up to three years in prison and specifies that rape victims should not face criminal charges for fornication or adultery. WHAT! You mean a man could be jailed just for beating his disobedient wife even if she’s not permanently harmed? And if rape victims aren’t prosecuted for adultery, that can only lead to social chaos! Because women will, of course, freely engage in extramarital sex and just claim rape if they’re caught.

It takes some pretty twisted logic to claim that letting girls grow up before their forced to marry and treating sexual assault victims like, well, victims will lead to social chaos. I guess it depends on your definition of “chaos.”

(1) Kay Johnson, The Associated Press, in The Ledger, May 19, 2013

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