Afghan parliamentarians furious at anti-woman law
Draft versions say women must have their husband's permission to
leave the house, custody of children would automatically be granted to fathers
and grandfathers, and women would be required to submit to sex with their
husbands every fourth day
— Canada's ambassador to Afghanistan says some of the men who sit in the
Afghan parliament are furious that a controversial new law stifling the
rights of women was passed without their input.
As Canadians question the
human cost of a military mission in a country where rights often seem to be
regressing, Ron Hoffman says he is encouraged by the outpouring of
frustration he heard during a meeting this week with local politicians in
“These were male MPs who said they were upset that they didn't have a
chance to debate this law,” said Mr. Hoffman, a career diplomat who took
over as Canada's ambassador in Afghanistan last September.
Critics say the law – which President Hamid Karzai ordered reviewed after
a torrent of criticism – was passed with unprecedented speed and limited
discussion. One female MP likened the process to a secret negotiation.
The final version of the law – which applies to the country's Shia minority –
has not been published and it is not yet in force. But draft versions contain
articles that say women must have their husband's permission to leave the house,
custody of children would automatically be granted to fathers and grandfathers,
and women would be required to submit to sex with their husbands every fourth
Mr. Hoffman's meeting with the politicians took place a day after a prominent
female politician was gunned down in Kandahar – and hours after a woman Canadian
trooper was killed by a roadside bomb north of that city.
He said he was impressed with the degree of determination expressed by local
Afghans to see that the law is changed and also by the fervent “self-criticisms
of the weakness of some of their institutional processes.”
The murder this week of Sitara Achakzai, an Afghan politician and
human-rights advocate, as she rode home of a local council meeting in Kandahar,
highlights the Taliban commitment to stifle progress in this country, said Mr.
The role that Canada is playing in Afghanistan is critical, said Mr. Hoffman.
“While there are pressures on some key communities, and certainly on women, I
certainly feel every day that progress is being made.”
Mr. Hoffman sees an increasing need for the skills and knowledge that
Canadians can bring to Afghanistan.
“The reality is that Canada does have a unique role to play and a unique
voice to contribute. And we see that playing out here,” said Mr. Hoffman. “We
will continue to have a major role to play post-2011 even without a large
As the United States makes plans to significantly increase the size of its
own diplomatic and civilian contingents, the number of Canadian diplomats has
been growing for years and will continue to expand, the ambassador told The
Globe and Mail during a wide-ranging interview.
“We are going to be here for generations,” he said. “This country will remain
more important to Canada – to Canadian direct interests – in a lot of ways for
many, many years.”
When Mr. Hoffman arrived in Kabul as deputy head of the mission in 2007, the
Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Kandahar city was staffed by a handful
of people and the embassy in Kabul was half the size it is now. Today there are
more than 300 people at the PRT and the embassy is constructing more space to
house the more than 100 staff currently assigned to Kabul.
Mr. Hoffman said the relationship with Afghanistan occupies a special spot on
Canada's diplomatic agenda.
Much of that interest is driven by security concerns, he said.
The entire region, he said, including Pakistan, Iran, Russia, China and the
countries of the former Soviet Union, is extremely dynamic and has the potential
for advancing Canadian interests but also for undermining them.
“If this area more widely destabilizes, and that results in human rights
abuses, results in deterioration of poverty levels and the quality of life for
women and children,” said Mr. Hoffman, “it helps the case for a strengthening
global jihadist movement among an extremist minority.”
loud mouth attempt to dictate family law to Afghanistan is bound to be
interpreted as yet another crusade by infidels. If the protests had come from
within rather than external than perhaps it would have been regarded as an
The reality is the Taliban control most of Afghanist who will not appreciate the
translations of Canada's messages which will serve to recruit and motivate.
The Taliban probably don't know that Ontario has a Male Sharia law where men
have no legal rights, the absence of the Rule of Law for men means men are
subjugated by women who have the effective right to endless abuse men and
children by simply preventing the children from ever having a relationship with
We have police guidelines that mean any woman can simply dial 911 and terminate
the children's relationship with their father.
And, speaking of rape, woe betide any Canadian man who does not provide sex upon
Just ask around, there are very few men who have not been raped at some stage by
a woman and you never hear of a woman in Canada being charged with raping a man.