Afghan Marriage Law Passes Husband Can Starve Wife
With media attention focussed on the upcoming Afghan elections, President Karzai has passed the controversial marriage law with some ammendments. It does allow a man to withhold food and money from his wife if she denies him sex.
The new law includes a section saying that a husband must provide financially for his wife. It also says that he can withhold this support if she refuses to "submit to her husband’s reasonable sexual enjoyment," according to a translation of the article supplied by New York-based Human Rights Watch.
In Afghanistan, where most women are uneducated and depend on their husbands for food and clothing, the article could be used to justify a husband starving a wife who refuses to have sex with him.
It appears that President Karzai used a loophole in the Afghan Constitution to pass the marriage law by decree, by-passing the parliament which is not in session.
Shinkai Kharokhel, a lawmaker who has been involved in reforming the legislation, said no one from the administration told her that the law was being approved without further debate. Instead, she had to learn thirdhand that the law she had been fighting was now in effect.
While the marriage law applies at this time only to those following Shiite practices, it is feared that the subjugation of women could return to the extent seen under Taliban rule.
The Shiite Moslems are a sizable ethnic group in Afghanistan. While President Karzai is from a different ethnic group, he has recieved support from influencial Shiite clergy in the past.
It's beginning to look as if the rights of women in Afghanistan are being shunted aside in a bald move to gain re-elction.
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