Women's Rights Law in Afghanistan Sent Back to Stone Age After Outcry

Stone Age law allowing marital rape and other horrors stopped by international outcry.

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Bravo to the human rights activists around the world who muscled up in unison to obliterate one of the most backward laws passed by any country in recent times. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai recently signed into law a bill that approved of marital rape, stipulated that the wife "is bound to preen for her husband as and when he desires," barred wives from "leaving the house without the permission of the husband" unless in a medical or other emergency, and approved child marriage with girls legally able to marry once they began to menstruate. The law, governing Afghanistan's Shiite population (one third of the country) forced women back to Taliban-era (read that, Stone Age) oppression. And that was just the beginning.

After a worldwide storm of protest, President Karzai apparently put the kibosh on the law almost as quickly as he signed it. Protests were communicated to him by a wide array of international figures from Muslim and nondenominational human rights groups, to Secretary of State Clinton, to Afghan women living abroad.

According to the British Guardian:

"At a conference on Afghanistan in The Hague, Scandinavian foreign ministers publicly challenged the Afghan leader to respond to a report on the new law in yesterday's Guardian, and the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, was reported to have confronted Karzai on the issue in a private meeting. At a press conference after the meeting, Clinton made clear US displeasure at the apparent backsliding on women's rights. 'This is an area of absolute concern for the United States. My message is very clear. Women's rights are a central part of the foreign policy of the Obama administration,' she said."

The protests worked. And now the law, which was a pre-election sop by Karzai (he's up for re-election this summer) to curry favor with conservative Shiite party leaders, is not going to be enacted or enforced. Hear, hear!

But there's more to be done...