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When men are weak, women will suffer

March 31, 2009

Someone much cleverer than me once said something along those lines and we have only to look to Afghanistan today to see an example of this truism.

The Guardian had it’s ‘Worse than the Taliban’ – new law rolls back rights for Afghan women story on its web front page first thing this morning – good for them – and Amnesty twitters that a ‘potentially devastating law that legalises rape within marriage is proposed in Afghanistan’.

What is going on? Hamid Karzai is backing a law which the UN says legalises rape within marriage and bans wives from stepping outside their homes without their husbands’ permission.

Although the final document has not been published, the law is believed to contain articles that rule women can only seek work, education or visit the doctor with their husbands’ permission, and that they cannot refuse their husband sex. It may also grant custody of children to fathers and grandfathers only.

The Afghan president has been accused of backing the law in a bid to win votes in the upcoming presidential elections. To be honest, it doesn’t matter what his motives are, if the law is passed it will be shameful.

Western meddling has brought death, destruction and grief to so many in the Middle East, but though I was always against these wars, I hoped that there would be positive outcomes too. There are days when my belief that people are basically good is sorely tested – and this is one of them. Nevertheless, I do still believe it – so good people, get the word out about this atrocious law and make it clear that you don’t believe women are a man’s property.

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