Afghanistan lawmakers cite religion in blocking legislation to protect women
Lawmakers in Afghanistan have blocked legislation proposing a minimum marriage age for girls, and women not being prosecuted for rapes committed against them. Some said such laws might encourage sex outside of marriage.
Failure to pass the law highlights how tenuous women’s rights remain a dozen years after the US-led war led to the overthrow of the Taliban, which kept women virtual prisoners in their homes. Khalil Ahmad Shaheedzada, a conservative lawmaker for the Herat province, said parliament withdrew the legislation because of opposition from religious parties that considered the law un-Islamic.
“Whatever is against Islamic law, we don’t even need to speak about it,” Shaheedzada said.
Using executive authority, President Hamid Karzai had created the Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women in 2009. Parliament would eventually have to endorse it, however – or not.
The law would have criminalized domestic violence and protected victims from themselves facing criminal charges after men had raped them and banned “baad,” which allows for the commercial exchange of women to settle disputes. Religious representatives objected to more than half a dozen parts of the legislation, including a minimum marriage age of 16 for girls and supporting shelters for women whose husbands had abused them.