How a reviled Afghan law on women went from a magazine to a maelstrom

Legal activists in Kabul tried to sound alarms about its content to international stakeholders, but got nowhere


Globe and Mail Update

April 16, 2009 at 8:37 PM EDT

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN — The law that exploded Afghan women's rights onto the world stage began in obscurity two years ago, when it was published as a proposal in a magazine for Shia clerics.

From there, it was circulated to the Ministry of Justice, where it began its bureaucratic progress into law.

At that point, few outside the Afghan government were paying attention. But inside the country, news of the legislation raised eyebrows. Months before President Hamid Karzai quietly signed it into law, legal activists in Kabul sounded alarms about its content to international stakeholders, but got nowhere, they say.

“The current provisions of this law support domestic violence and the impunity of its perpetrators,” said Zia Moballegh, senior program officer in charge of the family-law project run here by the Canadian-based international-aid and human-rights group Rights and Democracy.

“We even requested that some talk to [hard-line Shia cleric Asef Mohseni, who supports the law] and do what they can, but none of them took it seriously.”

In fact, it was only at the summit on Afghanistan in The Hague earlier this month, when the law was brought to the attention of participants by the Finnish Foreign Minister, that the world reaction detonated. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promptly confronted Mr. Karzai with the West's disapproval, setting off a series of reactions and news reports that prompted him to send the law back for review.

The Personal Status Law, among other things, makes compulsory a wife's obligation to have sex with her husband. It also limits the conditions under which Shia women, who are a minority in Afghanistan, can leave the home, and states that women must wear make-up and pretty themselves whenever their partners insist.

Mr. Moballegh's group has been working to reform family law in Afghanistan for more than a year to bring it in line with international human-rights standards.

While it is unclear who wrote the signed version of the new law, Mr. Moballegh said a draft of the legislation was first published in a religious magazine for Shia clerics in 2007. It was then circulated to the Ministry of Justice. Since then, the proposed law has been raising eyebrows among politicians and rights activists who have been working to ensure certain amendments would be supported when the law reached parliament.

But they never had the chance to see the fruits of their effort. The law was quietly passed last month by Mr. Karzai, and even though it has since been placed under review – the result of an internal and international uproar – Mr. Moballegh and his colleagues fear that media attention on some particularly outrageous articles will narrow the review and prevent a complete overhaul of the bill.

As it stands, he said, there are many more problematic articles that merit revision, including one that says men must be 18 to marry, and women only 16. “This must be changed,” Mr. Moballegh said, adding that it will foster an increase in child brides.

Another provision, which was successfully amended, dictates custody rights in the case of divorce. It says women will get custody of girls under the age of nine, and boys under the age of seven. Any older and the children belong to their father or grandfather. The original law provided that fathers would gain custody of boys at the age of two and girls at seven.

“The interest of the child is not being considered,” said an exasperated Mr. Moballegh. “In Afghanistan, we have a lack of studies, lack of data to show the impact of domestic violence on society. There is a great cost to the government to heal the damage of domestic violence. If they understood this … they wouldn't adopt this bill.”





Ottawa Mens, from Home of the Corrupt Ontario Superior Court Judge Allan Sheffield, Canada) wrote: Here we go - More ideas from Canadian Family Court - Now, they wish to tell Afghans that they have got it all wrong, its different from Canadian law.. Really, "men 18 to marry, and women only 16"
There have been a lot of marriages over the last hundred years in western society that contravene that rule, where it exists.

Notice, that now, the Afghanistan war is now all about women's rights?
Perhaps all the Canadian Man Hater's Association should enlist those "front line workers" and let em at the Taliban.

If you think that is throwing fuel on the fire, then think again about how Afghans regard Canada's attempt to dictate Canadian ideas of family law.

What Afghan's need to know is, that Ontario, has a Sharia Type law against men, its written gender neutral but the practical application is that Men have no legal rights.


Ottawa Mens, from Home of the Corrupt Ontario Superior Court Judge Allan Sheffield, Canada) wrote: Cont- Go down to 161 Elgin Street Ottawa and watch what goes on in Family Court, you will see men convicted of the criminal offense of "annoying" a woman, thats right, thats all it takes is for a woman to say she was "annoyed" and her evidence can be quadruple hearsay, yes, quadruple, and that evidence is not examined, and
NO TRIAL, thats right, you have underbellies of the judiciary, like Allan D. Sheffield who makes such decisions by "summary judgment".
Then you have Denis Power who "strikes pleadings".

These judges and their brother vermin habitually make draconian decisions to terminate a child's relationship with a father for no other reason than the mother won't agree.

That's right, Ontario grants women almost judicial power, and if she (like the judge) just happens to have a personality disorder that points in the psychopath direction, the poor guy is doomed to destruction.

Ontario Family Court Judges operate with impunity and immunity from almost anything, given the large number, you would expect a few to be fired every year.

Canada first needs to end its own war on men at home.