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Law subjugates Shia women in Afghanistan

In April, there was wide-spread international condemnation when a legislation catering to the Shia sect in Afghanistan was passed. This legislation tilted the gender balance very strongly towards men, something not uncommon in Islamic countries. However, since Afghanistan was a place where troops from many nations were fighting the Taliban, and many of these troops were losing their lives, there was more outrage. How could a country have such a law if the Government of the country was dependent on foreign aid and foreign support. At that time, the President of Afghanistan, Karzai, shook off the criticism by claiming that he had not read the legislation clearly before signing it, and he would take steps to revert. However, seems like nothing really happened after that (link to article):

Afghanistan has enacted a new legislation empowering men of Shia sect of Islam to deny their wives food and sustenance if they refuse to obey their husbands’ sexual demands, a media report said on Saturday. The new final draft of the legislation also grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers, and requires women to get permission from their husbands to work, The Guardian reported.


According to the report, the new law has been backed by the hardline Shia cleric Ayatollah Mohseni, who is thought to have influence over the voting intentions of some Shias, who make up around 20 per cent of the population. Karzai has assiduously courted such minority leaders in the run up to next Thursday’s election, which is likely to be close, a poll indicated.

Given that the President is now contesting for re-election as the President of Afghanistan, and Shia votes will also be important, it is doubtful whether this legislation will be so easily reversed; would be so ironic that a state supported by the West enshrines a massive gender bias.

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