Sweeping it under the (Afghan) rug
An Afghan law which legalised rape has been sent back to parliament with a clause letting husbands starve their wives if they refuse to have sex.
President Hamid Karzai ordered a review of the legislation after The Independent revealed that it negated the need for consent within marriage.
The amendments were passed to the cabinet this week and signed by Mr Karzai on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said last night.
The women's rights activist Wazhma Frough, who was involved in the review, said that conservative religious leaders had pressured the Justice Ministry to keep many of the most controversial clauses.
"There have been a few little changes, but they are not enough," she said. "For example, if the wife doesn't accept her husband's sexual requirements then he can deny her food."
According to civil society groups, the law, which regulates the personal affairs of Afghanistan's minority Shia community, still includes clauses which allow rapists to marry their victims as a way of absolving their crime and it tacitly approves child marriage. The law sparked riots in Kabul. Hundreds of Shia women took to the streets in protest. They were attacked by mobs of angry men who launched counter demonstrations outside the capital's largest Shia madrassa.
It is due to be ratified by parliament, which first passed the legislation in March with hardly any debate.
According to this AP story in the Star which was published hours after The Independent's report, the law has been revised. No mention of starving the burqa-bound little woman but ...
The new version no longer requires a woman submit to sex with her husband, only that she do certain household chores.
The changes, which parliament is expected to approve, likely reflect a calculation by President Hamid Karzai that his reputation as a reformer is more important than support from conservative Shiites who favoured the original bill.
Presidential spokesman Humayun Hamidzada said the revisions show Karzai has followed through on a pledge made in April to expunge the offensive parts of the marriage law, which applies only to minority Shiite Muslims.
Women's rights activists welcomed the new draft, but many said the government had not done enough and that little will change in day-to-day life.
"We need a change in customs, and this is just on paper. What is being practised every day, in Kabul even, is worse than the laws," said Shukria Barakzai, a lawmaker and women's rights advocate.
Women in Afghanistan are facing increasing violence almost eight years after the fall of the Taliban, a UN report showed today.
The report, issued by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, focuses on the "growing trend" of violence and sexual threats made against women in public life.
It reveals examples of targeted killings of professional women as well as a list of threats, discrimination, intimidation and harassment aimed at working women and their families.
Government action is reportedly inadequate and in many cases the police and judicial officials are unaware that rape is a serious criminal offence.
The report identifies women who travel unaccompanied, those who have previously been subjected to sexual violence, widows, divorcees and women whose husbands are out of the country as those most likely to be targeted by rapists.
"Rapists include individuals who are entrusted as guardians or as care-takers of children and women, such as staff of prisons, juvenile rehabilitation centres, police stations or orphanages," the report stated.
Hello? How about a phone call from Stephen Harper?
I am not known for my diplomacy but, if it were me with the power to make this call it would go something like
''Hey, Hamid, you opportunistic misogynist fundamentalist jerk, kill the law or eat Canada's dust face the Taliban with nothing but that used-swampland-in-Florida salesman grin.''
But then, maybe the ''Afghan Mission'' was never about humanitarianism in the first place, hunh?