U.S.-backed Afghani President Hamid Karzai is poised to issue a law on women's rights that the UN Development Fund for Women has warned against and a female Parliamentarian calls "worse than during the Taliban."
The law would legalize marital rape; require women to seek their husband's permission to leave the house; additionally mean that women obtain their husband's permission to see a doctor, go to school or work; and eliminate the child custody rights of women in the event of divorce or widowhood. No, for real. This is what the government we've installed is about to do to half its citizens. Our government — which is happily handing out Viagra in tribal areas to ensure the military and intelligence cooperation of impotent warlords — is backing the President of a country who is putting into effect a new law which legislates away what few rights those warlords' wives have. I guess somebody in the embassy forgot to read Hillary Clinton's confirmation hearing testimony in which she promised to elevate the status of women's rights in foregin policy.
And why do you think our puppet government is perfect happy to legislate away the hard-fought rights of half its citizens — rights, by the way, that the U.S. actually sort of fought for on their behalf? To increase Karzai's chance of winning re-election in a country that is sick of his increasingly corrupt and ineffective government. There's a reason they call the guy the Mayor of Kabul.
After seven years leading Afghanistan, Karzai is increasingly unpopular at home and abroad and the presidential election in August is expected to be extremely closely fought. A western diplomat said the law represented a "big tick in the box" for the powerful council of Shia clerics.
Leaders of the Hazara minority, which is regarded as the most important bloc of swing voters in the election, also demanded the new law.
Ustad Mohammad Akbari, an MP and the leader of a Hazara political party, said the president had supported the law in order to curry favour among the Hazaras.
And if that's not fun enough, check out how well the Islamic supporters of the law can parrot the talking points of American conservatives when it comes to women and "innate" differences.
But [Akbari] said the law actually protected women's rights.
"Men and women have equal rights under Islam but there are differences in the way men and women are created. Men are stronger and women are a little bit weaker; even in the west you do not see women working as firefighters."
By the way, Akbari says that women can refuse sex with their husbands if they are sick or have a "reasonable" excuse — not that they could, like, prosecute that or anything — and they would totally be allowed to leave the house without permission in an emergency. There's, naturally, nothing in the law that defines a reasonable excuse or an emergency, but I'm assuming that will be for the husband or male authorities to determine.
Of course, Afghanistan's Western allies (ie., the U.S. and its allies) have been suspiciously quiet about this heinous new law, being as Karzai's people have convinced us that it's the only way he can win the election.
"It is going to be tricky to change because it gets us into territory of being accused of not respecting Afghan culture, which is always difficult," a western diplomat in Kabul admitted.
Soraya Sobhrang, the head of women's affairs at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said western silence had been "disastrous for women's rights in Afghanistan".
"What the international community has done is really shameful. If they had got more involved in the process when it was discussed in parliament we could have stopped it. Because of the election I am not sure we can change it now. It's too late for that."
Some diplomats are claiming that we'll, like, totes object when the law is final.
Some female Parliamentarians are trying to see the silver lining in the big black cloud of this law, at least until their husbands rescind their permission to work.
Some female politicians have taken a more pragmatic stance, saying their fight in parliament's lower house succeeded in improving the law, including raising the original proposed marriage age of girls from nine to 16 and removing completely provisions for temporary marriages.
"It's not really 100% perfect, but compared to the earlier drafts it's a huge improvement," said Shukria Barakzai, an MP.
Well, hey, no more child brides! I'm sure that will be prosecuted with the same alacrity that women are prosecuted for leaving the house or working without the permission of their husbands.