Sunday, July 12, 2009

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan

The final form of the law which regulates the personal relationships of Afghanistan's Shia minority still doesn't look terribly good for women:

The women's rights activist Wazhma Frough, who was involved in the review, said that conservative religious leaders had pressured the Justice Ministry to keep many of the most controversial clauses.

"There have been a few little changes, but they are not enough," she said. "For example, if the wife doesn't accept her husband's sexual requirements then he can deny her food."

According to civil society groups, the law, which regulates the personal affairs of Afghanistan's minority Shia community, still includes clauses which allow rapists to marry their victims as a way of absolving their crime and it tacitly approves child marriage. The law sparked riots in Kabul. Hundreds of Shia women took to the streets in protest. They were attacked by mobs of angry men who launched counter demonstrations outside the capital's largest Shia madrassa.

It is due to be ratified by parliament, which first passed the legislation in March with hardly any debate.

It strikes me that the creators of this law appear to view marriage as a labor contract: In exchange for food give sex! But the particular labor contract seems pretty one-sided as the payments to the worker (the wife) are limited to bed and board, whereas her duties appear whatever the employer (the husband) deems fit.