According to a troubling story out of Kabul today, the rights of Shiite women living in Afghanistan—and
the relationships they have with their husbands—are now significantly curtailed by a
bill signed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. While the president had said he
would give it to parliament to review, politicians and women’s rights groups
were surprised to learn this week that it had already gone into effect, despite
concerns and objections from several international organizations.
ABC reported from the capital
last week on the original text of the law.
“The Shiite Family Law, which applies to less
than 20 percent of the population, has sparked international outrage because of
the dictates it places on a wife. The law, according to a translation by a
Western embassy in Kabul, describes a wife’s duties as ‘obedience,
readiness for intercourse, and not leaving the house without the permission of
the husband.’ The law also, according to the same translation, dictates
that the wife is ‘bound to preen for her husband, as and when he
The text of the enacted law is
more vague in its wording but still places
the same restrictions on women and girls in the war-torn country.
According to today’s report, the “final language requires
Shiite women to give their husband ‘their sharia rights’ when it comes to sex,
a reference to Islamic law. And it allows women to leave their own homes ‘according
to local customs.’”
What’s even more disturbing is the fact that President
Karzai enacted the bill, and it seems he didn’t bother to tell anyone. Reports
say that it was a clever back-room deal for Karzai to get the Shiite cleric
vote in the upcoming election.