Afghanistan Parliament Blocks Anti-Violence Against Women Law

The Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women, a 2009 mandate approved by President Hamid Karzai's decree that aims to protect women's rights — specifically, one that bans child marriage and the practice of "baad," selling and buying women to settle disputes — was shot down in Afghani Parliament today.

The more religious and conservative members objected to at least eight of the "secular" articles in the legislation, objecting that they violated Islamic principles and would encourage female disobedience. Under the Quran, a husband may beat his wife as a last resort as long as she is not "permanently harmed" (Karzai, known for vacillating on women's rights issues, actually put this rule in a code of conduct issued by clerics in 2012), so the more religious Parliament representatives were opposed to giving the man a one- to three-year prison sentence.

Other objectionable issues were keeping the legal age of marriage age to 16, halving the number of wives permitted to 2 and building shelters for abused women.

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One of the conservative MPs suggested that the removal of prosecuting raped women for adultery would lead to more extramarital sex, with women claiming they had been raped to escape punishment: "Adultery itself is a crime in Islam, whether it is by force or not."

Fawzia Koofi, the extremely disappointed head of Parliament's women's commission, said: "Today, the parliamentarians who oppose women's development, women's rights and the success of women... made their voices loud and clear. 2014 is coming, change is coming, and the future of women in this country is uncertain."

'Afghan MPs block divisive women's rights law' [Al Jazeera]
'Afghan lawmakers block law on women's rights' [SF Gate]

Image via Getty