The Common Good

Afghanistan's Anti-Woman Law

Last month Afghanistan's Parliament passed a new law that severely restricts the rights of women. Although the Afghan constitution calls for equal rights for men and women, this new law imposes standards that some say are worse than what the Taliban demanded. This law forbids women to leave their homes except for emergencies; it forbids them to work or receive education without their husband's express permission; it strips mothers of custody rights to their children in case of divorce; it makes it impossible for wives to inherit land or houses from their husbands; and it even permits marital rape, saying that women cannot refuse sexual relations unless they are sick.

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And if those violations of women weren't enough, it appears that President Karzai approved the law in an attempt to win more votes during an election year. Apparently guaranteeing men the legal right to rape their wives scored high on the felt needs survey for his key swing demographic. This isn't simply cultural, or a way to "protect" women, as defenders are saying. Expressions of conservative Muslim faith do exist that don't treat women as pawns to be used by men for their own selfish ends. This is about stripping women of their identity and humanity

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