Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Afghan parliament to legalise rape within marriage

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has signed into law a bill which according to the UN, legalises rape within marriage and requires women to have their husbands' permission before leaving the house. The law covers areas like marriage, divorce, and inheritance for Afghanistan's Shia community, which is a large and significant minority in Afghanistan. It seems that Karzai has signed the bill into law in order to shore up his support ahead of the next election.

I can't find anything about this story on NZ newspaper sites, so go read the stories in The Independent and The Guardian instead.

We need to put pressure on our government to use any means possible to put pressure on Karzai and other politicians in Afghanistan to repeal this law, which sacrifices women on the altar of Karzai's political career. Apparently so far the Western diplomatic community has not put pressure on Karzai about the law.
"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.

Because of course, women don't count when it comes to respecting a culture.

I suggest contacting the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, about this. Write to him at parliament - it's free! We could also contact the soon-to-be number three at the UN, Helen Clark, and ask her to use her position to do what she can to put pressure on Afghanistan's political leaders. She's yet to take up the job, and she has not yet announced a resignation from Parliament, so you can write to her there. And you can join in Amnesty International's appeal for action to protect women in Afghanistan.

Don't use this post as an excuse to bash all Muslims, any more than you should use incidents like the Pope saying that condoms increase the risk of Aids to bash all Christians. Focus on the particular issue of women in Afghanistan, please.


Anna said...

Remember, just after the US invaded Afghanistan, the way women's rights was used as a justification - and George W was actually hailed at one point as a champion of women's rights. The irony is just too bitter.

Thanks for posting this, Deborah - maybe it will reassure those who think NZ feminists only care about facial hair?

stargazer said...

um, why do we have to reassure them?

Anna said...

I don't think we do - I was being a bit facetious in response to a couple of (anonymous) complaints that we only blog about NZ stuff, as if that were actually true, or NZ stuff doesn't matter anyway ... sigh.

Br3nda of said...

To be fair, the diplomat said she/he would be accused of not respecting culture -- didn't actually condone it, but was realistic about what the obstacles are.

It's nowhere near the same scale of injustice, but it reminds me of being told i'm not allowed to speak on a certain marae because I possessed a vagina.