Tuesday, April 07, 2009

What Are They Thinking?

In a time when public outcry has pushed congressional representatives to stand up to financial community executives, it's beginning to come to public attention that we have a voice and can use it.

The recent publicity given to proposed Sharia law with respect to women in Afghanistan has met with as much public outcry as conduct of officials receiving monetary support from U.S. taxpayers. Seemingly, that outcry has also had an effect that we can be impressed with.

A controversial law condoning marital rape and reintroducing Taleban-era rules for Afghan women has been shelved after an outcry in the West.

The Afghan Foreign Ministry said that the law had not been enacted, while Justice Ministry officials said that its contents might be reconsidered. The legislation was put on hold pending a review.

“The Justice Ministry is reviewing the law to make sure it is in line with the Afghan Government’s commitment to human rights and women rights conventions,” Sultan Ahmad Baheen, a spokesman for the ministry in Kabul, said.

The British Government expressed alarm at the law, which applies to the 15 per cent of the Afghan population that is Shia Muslim. President Obama called the law “abhorrent” at the Nato summit in Strasbourg last week.

The Afghan Government is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines equality in dignity and rights regardless of religion or sex. Article 22 of the Afghan Constitution also explicitly reiterates the equality of men and women before the law.

Human rights activists cited a large number of provisions in the law that appeared to disregard those commitments in a draft leaked to The Times.

One of the most controversial articles stipulates that the wife “is bound to preen for her husband as and when he desires”.

Later the law explicitly sanctions marital rape. “As long as the husband is not travelling, he has the right to have sexual intercourse with his wife every fourth night,” Article 132 says. “Unless the wife is ill or has any kind of illness that intercourse could aggravate, the wife is bound to give a positive response to the sexual desires of her husband.”

Article 133 reintroduces the Taleban restrictions on women’s movements outside their homes, stating: “A wife cannot leave the house without the permission of the husband” unless in a medical or other emergency.

Article 27 endorses child marriage with girls legally able to marry once they begin to menstruate.

The law also withholds from the woman the right to inherit her husband’s wealth.
Reaction to the law among Shia women was largely supportive, Ruqiya Nayel, a Shia woman MP from Ghor province, said.

“This law clearly violates our rights,” she told The Times. “Unfortunately most of the women I represent welcome this law because 98 per cent of women are uneducated and do not know their rights. A very few educated women are very sad about it.”

Well, halfway there anyway. While it's hard for me to comprehend supporting rights for men to rape their wives, I am at least pleased that they are now aware that the west thinks it's dreadful. Benighted we may be in some ways, but at least Western women are aware that we have the right to determine our own sexual behavior without force. For some ladies in the Middle East, hopefully this is at least an enlightenment.

While it's hard to understand, legislators in Afghanistan have had a bit of sensitizing on women's rights themselves. I do hope they didn't go home and beat their wives. And if any did, I hope the lady will consider letting his nibs know he isn't going to do that, or she's getting out of there.

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Blogger shrimplate said...

I do not see how the Muslim world can ever really enter modernity without rejecting its archaic and brutal patriarchy.

8:26 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

Certainly true of the Xtian world, too, it seems.

4:50 AM  

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