Friday, August 14, 2009

New Legalized Gender Discrimination in Afghanistan

Yesterday Human Rights Watch learned that the revised Marital Rape law in Afghanistan was passed and published in the official Gazette on July 27. Although the amended legislation promised by the Afghan government no longer includes marital rape, it includes equally oppressive laws against women. Most notable, the law allows Shia men to deny wives of food if they refuse to perform thier husbands' sexual demands. Aditionally, the law states that guardianship of children belongs exclusively to fathers and grandfathers, and allows rapists to avoid prosecution if they pay "blood money" to make up for any injuries caused to thier rape victim.

Not only is does this legislation strip women of some of thier most basic human rights, it is also unconstitutional according to the Article 22 of the Afghan constitution which states that men and women have "equal rights and duties before the law". Additionally, this legislation defies the international convention CEDAW, which Afghanistan has signed to end discrimination against women. Although President Hamid Karzai promised to amend the previous marital rape law, it has been speculated by many feminist groups that the president supported this pathetic alteration in order to garner support from religious conservatives for the upcoming election on August 20.

It is completely unacceptable for women, or for any human being to be so horribly discriminated against under the law. The dignity and quality of life of the women of Afghanistan is being tossed around by male political and religious leaders more interested in power than in equality, safety, and the well being of the Afghan society as a whole. This legislation cannot be ignored by the international community, or by feminists around the world. Let President Obama know that it is important to you that he pressure the next Afghan President to repeal this legislation and guarantee the Afghan women the fundamental rights that they deserve. Call your representative today!

The Feminist Majority Foundation is committed to achieving full political, social and economic freedom and equality for the women and girls of Afghanistan, through the Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls and the Feminist Campus Afghan Women's Health Initiative.

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