Afghanistan lawmakers block law on women’s rights

CONSERVATIVE religious lawmakers here blocked legislation Saturday aimed at strengthening provisions for women’s freedom,arguing that parts of it violated Islamic principles and encouraged disobedience.

Written by Associated Press | Kabul | Published: May 19, 2013 3:30:36 am

CONSERVATIVE religious lawmakers here blocked legislation Saturday aimed at strengthening provisions for women’s freedom,arguing that parts of it violated Islamic principles and encouraged disobedience.

The fierce opposition highlights how tenuous women’s rights remain a dozen years after the ouster of the hard-line Taliban regime,whose strict interpretation of Islam once kept Afghan women virtual prisoners in their homes.

Khalil Ahmad Shaheedzada,a conservative lawmaker for Herat,said the legislation was withdrawn shortly after being introduced in parliament due to an uproar by religious parties who said parts of the law are un-Islamic.

The Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women has been in effect since 2009,but only by presidential decree. It is being brought before parliament now because lawmaker Fawzia Kofi,a women’s rights activist,wants to cement it with a parliamentary vote to prevent its potential reversal by any future president who might be tempted to repeal it to satisfy hard-line religious parties.

The law criminalizes,among other things,child marriage and forced marriage,and bans “baad”,the traditional practice of selling and buying women to settle disputes. It also makes domestic violence a crime punishable by up to three years and specifies that rape victims should not face criminal charges for fornication or adultery.

Kofi,who plans to run for president in next year’s elections,said she was disappointed because,among those who oppose upgrading the law from presidential decree to legislation passed by parliament,are women.

Afghanistan’s parliament has more than 60 female lawmakers.

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