Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Women in Afghanistan protest law that legalizes marital rape among other things

Around 300 women in Kabul, Afghanistan took to the streets today to protest a law that severely limits women's rights. The women wanted to protest several parts of the law especially. These include a provision that makes it illegal for women to resist the sexual advances of their husbands, effectively legalizing marital rape, and another that makes it illegal for women to work or go to school outside of the home without the permission of their husband. The law was approved by both houses of Parliament and was signed by President Hamid Karzai, and it applies only to the Shiite minority.
The women who protested Wednesday began their demonstration with what appeared to be a deliberately provocative act. They gathered in front of the School of the Last Prophet, a madrasa run by Ayatollah Asif Mohsini, the country’s most powerful Shiite cleric. He and the scholars around him played an important role in the drafting of the new law.
As the women walked the streets of the capital, they endured shouts of "Whore!" and other insults from a large, angry group consisting mostly of men, who came to counterprotest.

“We are here to campaign for our rights,” one woman said into a loudspeaker. Then the women held their banners aloft and began to chant.

The reaction was immediate. Hundreds of students from the madrasa, most but not all of them men, poured into the streets to confront the demonstrators.

“Death to the enemies of Islam!” the counterdemonstrators cried, encircling the women. “We want Islamic law!”

The women stared ahead and kept walking.

Thanks to Ashley for the link. See Shakesville for pictures from the protest.


Mike said...

It's truly heartbreaking. I feel very bad for these women.

Amelia said...

Yes, it is horrible that such a law was so widely supported in the government, and that these women were greeted with such hostility during their peaceful protest.

But the fact that they withstood it all and continued to do what they felt was right makes me proud of them. It's a small way of them taking some of their power back, by not allowing people to stop them.

Michael said...

Boy, we sure did bring democracy to Afghanistan!

One of the things that really pisses me off about the whole "bringing democracy to CountryX" justification for aggressive wars is that democracy doesn't magically work like that. A very impoverished nation with little to no history of supporting human rights simply will not make a good democracy, and that's why Afghanistan and Iraq, even when laws are made democratically, still have extremely regressive policies towards women, homosexuals, minorities, and other marginalized groups. Liberalization is more important than democratization, and liberalization cannot be accomplished through aggressive war.

Mike said...


Clearly you are part of the blame America first crowd. Sad Sad. Changing Afgahnistan's culture was never a goal of ours, that is impossible. They have a democracy thanks in part to the US. However, what they do with the democracy is up to them, not us. There are certain religous and cultural norms that we can't control or change. To put the blame of this law at the feet of America is senseless and stupid. The place it needs to go is at the feet of the Islamic culture that fosters such atrocities. You also seem to forget that because of us clearing out the even more oppressive Taliban, women are now able to vote and attend school among other things which weren't possible at the beginning of this decade.

Michael said...

Hey guy who shares my name almost,

I don't blame America's war on terror for Afghanistan's horrifically regressive stance on human rights. The problem is indeed that Afghanistan has never been liberal (in terms of classical Liberalism, not American liberalism), meaning that the Afghani government has never promoted human rights. I also didn't say that things are worse today than they were under the rule of the Taliban. All I said was that bringing democracy to a nation doesn't magically make it a good place. In fact, in terms of human rights, a Liberal Monarchy or a Liberal Dictatorship, both of which exist and have existed in the past, would be far better. In addition, it is not a very far leap from Liberal Monarchy or Dictatorship to a proper Liberal Democracy which will promote human rights and safety according to the will of the people.

Also of note, never in the history of the world have two Liberal Democracies gone to war. However, illiberal democracies have gone to war on many occasions with Liberal Democracies.

Also, the "Islamic Culture" that you speak of was fostered under hundreds of years of non-liberalized oligarchic rule, rural poverty and violence, and absence of substantial education. Nothing about that culture is inherently Islamic.