Afghan women ‘worse’ off than under Taliban

This video says about itself:

Afghan Member of Parliament [then, in 2006, still; before she was expelled] Malalai Joya speaks about the troubling and declining status of women’s rights in Afghanistan.

Remember all those hypocritical speeches by George W. Bush and United States First Lady Laura Bush about the bombing, maiming and killing of occupation and war in Afghanistan having supposedly noble democratic purposes, especially for Afghan women?

Reality is somewhat different, as usually with the Bush clique.

From British daily The Guardian:

‘Worse than the Taliban’ – new law rolls back rights for Afghan women

* Jon Boone in Kabul

* Tuesday 31 March 2009

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.

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.”

See also here. And here.

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51 thoughts on “Afghan women ‘worse’ off than under Taliban

  1. Afghan rape law sparks street protests

    Wednesday 15 April 2009

    DIGNITY: Afghan women saying No to the new marriage law in Kabul.

    A GROUP of 500 conservative Afghan civilians attacked about 50 young women and MPs protesting in central Kabul yesterday against a new marriage law that legalises marital rape.

    The law, passed last month, states that a husband can demand sex with his wife every four days unless she is ill or would be harmed by intercourse.

    It also regulates when and for what reasons a wife may leave her home alone.

    The women MPs and rights activists marched outside a Kabul university demanding justice and distributing a declaration saying that the Shi’ite Personal Status Law “insults the dignity of women.”

    But the group was swamped by counter-protesters – both men and women – who shouted down the women’s chants.

    Some picked up gravel and stones and threw them at the women, while others shouted: “Death to the slaves of the Christians.”

    Female police held hands around the group to create a protective barrier.

    The government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said that the law is being reviewed by the Justice Department and will not be implemented in its current form.

    Governments and rights groups around the world have condemned the legislation.

    Though the law would apply only to the country’s Shi’ite community – 10 to 20 per cent of Afghanistan’s 30 million people – it has sparked uproar among activists who point out that it marks a return to Taliban-style oppression.

    The hardline Islamist Taliban movement, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996-2001, obliged women to wear burqas and banned them from leaving home without a male relative.


  2. Afghan sex-abuse allegations unfounded: military police

    By Murray Brewster, THE CANADIAN PRESS

    12 May 2009

    OTTAWA – Allegations that Canadian commanders turned a blind eye to sexual abuse of young boys by Afghan soldiers and police have been dismissed as unfounded by military investigators.

    The Canadian Forces National Investigative Service, which oversees military police, says it has determined allegations made by returning soldiers and the pastors who counselled them contained “serious discrepancies” and could not be verified.

    “There’s rumours and innuendos of course, but there’s no information to corroborate those allegations,” said Lt.-Col. Gilles Sansterre, head of the investigative branch.

    At least two soldiers have claimed they witnessed young Afghan boys being led into a Canadian forward operating base, where they were sodomized by Afghan troops and police.

    “We interviewed a number of people that could provide us some information and the bottom line is that testimony of some people was inconsistent and could not be corroborated by others,” said Sansterre.

    “We’ve been led to the conclusion the allegations are unfounded.”

    Maj. Kevin Klein, a high-ranking chaplain, has said publicly he warned commanders in 2007 about accounts of sex abuse that he was hearing from soldiers.

    Another chaplain, Jean Johns, said she counselled a Canadian soldier who said he witnessed a boy being raped and then wrote a report on the allegation for her brigade chaplain.

    Despite their claims, Sansterre said military police found no evidence that the allegations were reported to the chain of command.

    The investigation was thorough, and in the end there was no evidence Canadian military law was broken, he added.

    The fact the alleged crimes happened in Afghanistan was a complicating factor in the investigation.

    Sansterre said military police have jurisdiction over Canadian soldiers and civilians in the war-torn region, not Afghan nationals in their own country.

    There wasn’t even enough evidence to pass along to Afghan police for them to launch their own investigation, he said.

    The allegations that Afghan soldiers, police and even interpreters sexually abused young boys while on Canadian bases in Kandahar also prompted a wider investigation involving a military board inquiry, which has yet to deliver its findings.

    The NDP’s defence critic called it an “unconvincing report” and accused the military of sweeping the matter under the rug.

    “There’s an effort here to close the file on this thing and I don’t think that’s the right thing to do,” said Newfoundland MP Jack Harris.

    “It’s pretty clear that these reports were passed on to the chain of command and what we want to know is what was done about them.”

    Documents obtained by the New Democrats under the Access to Information Act show that after the allegations were raised in public, senior officers ordered to soldiers to report any suspected cases of abuse so they could flag them for investigation by Afghan officials.

    The troops, however, expressed skepticism to padres in the field that much would be done about it – citing the Afghan tribal code of justice.

    Pashtunwali “is very different from ours (system) and enforcement is not very effective,” said the June 2008 monthly pastoral report.


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