Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Afghan men allowed to starve wives  

I don't even have words to describe this. Horrific, appalling, disturbing, deplorable. Men in Afghanistan have won the "right" to starve their wives in order to control them and force them to meet their sexual demands:

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."

Many Afghan men fully support this law because they enjoy the ability to exercise control over their wives. In Afghanistan, equality remains a myth.

And sadly, allowing starvation isn't the only thing promised by this new law:

According to Human Rights Watch, the new law also "grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers" and "effectively allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying 'blood money' to a girl who was injured when he raped her."

I don't even know what we can do about this, other than spread the word. I feel really powerless.

What next?

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2 comments: to “ Afghan men allowed to starve wives

  • August 18, 2009 at 10:24 PM  

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



  • August 19, 2009 at 1:36 PM  

    I really like this blog, but I took exception to the wording of this post. I too have written on this law (at http://www.phem.org/2009/
    afghan.html) and I agree that it is very wrong. But please don't construct this law as back by popular demand. The title and the rest of the post makes it seem like all Afghan men have been just waiting for excuses to starve their wives. In fact, the bulk of people pushing this law forward are fundamentalists twisting Islam and President Karzai, who knows he can barter women's rights to gain more conservative support for the elections (which are today).

    Not all (and only) men support laws for sexual access to all (and only) women in Afghanistan.

    Of course Afghan women, like all women, should have their rights protected when it comes to their bodies, but contrary to popular belief, not all Afghan men "enjoy the ability to exercise control over their wives." Afghan men in the thousands actually support gender equality (Brodsky, 2003, counts male supporters of the Afghan feminist group RAWA as equal in number to its female active members).

    Calling gender equality in Afghanistan a myth is unfair to the men and women who are working for it. I understand your powerless feeling, though--it's really in Afghan hands to change.