Worse than the Taliban?
For it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for??
Our man in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai, has found a new way to screw women:
In a massive blow for women's rights, the new Shia Family Law negates the need for sexual consent between married couples, tacitly approves child marriage and restricts a woman's right to leave the home, according to UN papers seen by The Independent.
"It is one of the worst bills passed by the parliament this century," fumed Shinkai Karokhail, a woman MP who campaigned against the legislation. "It is totally against women's rights. This law makes women more vulnerable."
The law regulates personal matters like marriage, divorce, inheritance and sexual relations among Afghanistan's minority Shia community. "It's about votes," Ms Karokhail added. "Karzai is in a hurry to appease the Shia because the elections are on the way."
The provisions are reminiscent of the hardline Taliban regime, which banned women from leaving their homes without a male relative. But in a sign of Afghanistan's faltering steps towards gender equality, politicians who opposed it have been threatened.
"There are moderate views among the Shia, but unfortunately our MPs, the people who draft the laws, rely on extremists," Ms Karokhail said.
The bill lay dormant for more than a year, but in February it was rushed through parliament as President Karzai sought allies in a constitutional row over the upcoming election. Senator Humeira Namati claimed it wasn't even read out in the Upper House, let alone debated, before it was passed to the Supreme Court. "They accused me of being an unbeliever," she said.
The most controversial parts of the law deal explicitly with sexual relations. Article 132 requires women to obey their husband's sexual demands and stipulates that a man can expect to have sex with his wife at least "once every four nights" when travelling, unless they are ill. The law also gives men preferential inheritance rights, easier access to divorce, and priority in court.
A report by the United Nations Development Fund for Women, Unifem, warned: "Article 132 legalises the rape of a wife by her husband".
Most of Afghanistan's Shias are ethnic Hazaras, descended from Genghis Khan's Mongol army which swept through the entire region around 700 years ago. They are Afghanistan's third largest ethnic group, and potential kingmakers, because their leaders will likely back a mainstream candidate.Even the law's sponsors admit Mr Karzai rushed it through to win their votes.
Actually, he's not so secure. Which mans a messy situation could get a lot messier.
So anyway, what about all that blah-blah about how Canadians are dying so that, among other things, Afghan women and girls can have a better life?
I'd laugh if I wasn't so sickened.
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.
Yeah? So do something.
I am waiting for the text of the exchange from Question Period. I'll update when I get it.
UPPITY WOMAN DATE: Check out Dammit Janet's comments thread here.
UP PARLIAMENT HILL DATE: As promised ...
Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP): Mr. Speaker, there is disturbing news from Afghanistan today that laws passed by the Karzai government will make women even more vulnerable. Afghan women's groups and the UN say these new laws restrict a woman's right to leave her home, permit child marriage and, most disturbingly, legalize rape.
Will the government, in no uncertain terms, let President Karzai know that this is totally unacceptable?
Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, CPC): Mr. Speaker, if these reports are true, this will create serious problems for Canada. The onus is on the government of Afghanistan to live up to its responsibilities for human rights absolutely including rights of women. If there is any wavering on this point from the government of Afghanistan, this will create serious problems and be a serious disappointment for us.
Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is true, these laws explicitly give men all the rights in child custody, in divorce, in inheritance, but most horrifyingly is the fact that these new laws legalize rape within marriage. At a time when the world is coming together to hammer out a new international consensus on Afghanistan, women's rights in that country are being dealt a death blow.
How can we say that our soldiers are there to protect women's rights when the western-backed leader of the nation pushes through laws like this? Allowing women to be treated like a piece of property, is this what we are fighting for? Is this what our people are dying for--
Hon. Peter Milliken: Order. The hon. Minister of International Trade.
Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I repeat, if these prove to be true, this will create serious problems for the Government of Canada, for the people of Canada. Absolutely the onus is upon the government of Afghanistan to live up to its human rights responsibilities absolutely including the rights of women. If there is any wavering on this point, as we have said, this will create serious difficulties, serious problems for the Government of Canada. We expect this to be addressed. We expect the government of Afghanistan to live up to its responsibility to protect the rights of people, to respect the rights of women.