View Full Version : women's rights and international support for the Afghan mission

Rex Brynen
04-03-2009, 12:49 PM
'Worse than the Taliban' - new law rolls back rights for Afghan women (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/31/hamid-karzai-afghanistan-law)

Jon Boone in Kabul
The Guardian, 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.

Given the extent to which improving women's right was used in the West as a selling point for the mission—not to mention the appalling nature of the law itself—it is hardly surprising that reaction among donor/contributor countries has been substantial:

New Afghan law worries Nato chief (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7981340.stm)

BBC news, 3 April 2009

The law has been described as "oppressive" for women
Nato's head says it could be difficult to persuade European countries to contribute more troops to Afghanistan because of controversial new laws.

Women and democracy (http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Women+democracy/1458566/story.html)


The Afghan government's misogynistic new law will force Canada to answer an inconvenient question: Was the liberation of Afghan women ever more than a pretext for our mission there?

In other words, should this new law be a dealbreaker for Canada's support for President Hamid Karzai? Why should Canadian soldiers die for a government that persecutes women?

In fact, the new law is reason for Canada to redouble its efforts to put pressure on the Karzai government and support women's rights in Afghanistan.

Oh, and a reminder of Taliban support for gender equality (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7980899.stm).

Ron Humphrey
04-03-2009, 05:36 PM
Have a copy of the exact phrasing of this new "law" would you?

04-03-2009, 05:54 PM
Have a copy of the exact phrasing of this new "law" would you?

.... but this from today's Times Online (UK) (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6025362.ece):

.... The legislation is based on the Shia family code first brought before Parliament two years ago, to the horror of women legislators who make up more than a quarter of the assembly.

Under the same constitution, each religious group is to have its own family law. Opponents said that it contravenes the founding charter in many ways — not least Article 22, which enshrines equality of the sexes before the law.

One of the most controversial articles stipulates that the wife “is bound to preen for her husband as and when he desires”.

Later it explicitly sanctions marital rape. “As long as the husband is not travelling, he has the right to have sexual intercourse with his wife every fourth night,”

Article 132 says. “Unless the wife is ill or has any kind of illness that intercourse could aggravate, the wife is bound to give a positive response to the sexual desires of her husband.”

Article 133 reintroduces the Taleban restrictions on women’s movements outside their homes, stating: “A wife cannot leave the house without the permission of the husband” unless in a medical or other emergency.

Article 27 endorses child marriage with girls legally able to marry once they begin to menstruate ....

Ron Humphrey
04-03-2009, 06:24 PM
.... but this from today's Times Online (UK) (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6025362.ece):

Anybody got an idea of how this legal interaction between the articles and the founding charters. I mean how's it work when mamma tells daddy to go suck a kite and he's unhappy with it.

If he up and kills her are the courts gonna prosecute him. If not then they got a much bigger problem on the horizon. Not to mention how ISAF is supposed to react to such foolishness. :(

Rex Brynen
04-03-2009, 06:30 PM
Have a copy of the exact phrasing of this new "law" would you?

Many of the relevant clauses are now available on the Times website here (http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2009/04/sharia-for-shias-legalised-rape.html).

Ron Humphrey
04-03-2009, 06:43 PM
Many of the relevant clauses are now available on the Times website here (http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2009/04/sharia-for-shias-legalised-rape.html).

I know weve talked about how grey these matters can be before, but somehow just got the nasty feeling theres gonna be a lotta red before it all said and done:(

04-03-2009, 07:43 PM
I read through the proposed Astan code revisions at Times Online. This comment does not deal with them specifically as a legal matter, but is more general as a policy comment.

Although Karzai is quite familiar with the "Western World", he is not a secularist. Perhaps, a conservative (in matters of faith & law, which are totally intertwined, as we see)-modernist (in matters of technology) would be appropriate.

All Muslims (from secularists, whom we favor when we can find them, to neo-fundamentalists, whom we do not favor) rely on the same principles of the Koran and its supplemental and interpretive texts (some variations in choice there). Next come the very varied interpretations - and now we have the implementation, which we don't like.

I'd suggest that trying to impose "Western World" values (in quotes because the "Western World" is scarcely a monolith as to its own principles > interpretations > implementations) on the "Muslim World" (also not a monolith) is something of a fool's errand.

We can accept a particular Islamic government (with its faults as we see them) as an ally - or we can reject it as an ally. I'd suggest that any kind of substantial change in one of those governments (unless it is genuinely home-grown - and we might not like that either) is very unlikely.

Ron Humphrey
04-03-2009, 11:40 PM
That we have to be wary of trying to "impose" our views or preferences on a given society I still remain concerned that we recognize the inherent ned of those who are in the process of performing a given mission to:

1- Be able to buy the narrative they are selling themselves and others.

2- Not have to figure out how to protect without protecting equally

3- Not be placed in a position where their mission anf the basic principles they follow in order to acheive it begin to conflict with the government they are attempting to train in good governance do to the continued efforts of a few to utilize historical oppression techniques to ensure things don't change.
{not to mention the fact that only select portions of of their religious guidance are used in a vacuum to back their actions}

04-04-2009, 01:16 AM
and possibly factors going to a decision not to ally with the HN government. If despite those drawbacks, a decision to ally is reached because of other factors, the people on point are put between the rock and the hard place. Good Morning, Vietnam.