Monday, August 17, 2009

Afghan Husbands Win Right to Starve Wives

August 17, 2009,
By Robert Mackey

Bowing to international pressure and unprecedented protests by hundreds of women on the streets of Kabul, the Afghan government promised in April to review a new law imposing severe restrictions on women in Shiite Muslim families.

Last week, though, Human Rights Watch discovered that a revised version of the Shiite Personal Status Law had been quietly put into effect at the end of July — meaning that Shiite men in Afghanistan now have the legal right to starve their wives if their sexual demands are not met and that Shiite women must obtain permission from their husbands to even leave their houses, “except in extreme circumstances.”

The new law was signed by President Hamid Karzai, who is depending on support from Sheik Muhammad Asif Mohseni, the country’s most powerful Shiite cleric, in this week’s presidential election. Shiites, who were oppressed by the Sunni-led Taliban government, are believed to make up between 10 and 20 percent of Afghanistan’s population. Sheik Mohseni and scholars close to him were allowed to write the first draft of the new law, and he was reportedly unhappy that Parliament had introduced a provision that banned men from marrying girls under the age of 16. the rest


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