Did you know that it’s OK to beat the hell out of people, as long as it’s not against your religion? Oh you did? Then you might be a member of the Afghan parliament.
Late last week, the Afghan parliament failed to really even discuss the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law because – get this – it’s against Sharia law.
“This law is just a government project, it is against Sharia… we need to discuss more about this and remove articles that are against Islam,” Abdul Sattar Khawasi, a conservative MP from Parwan province, said.
Also, evidently child marriages shouldn’t be illegal. Hmmm… that sounds about right. Fundies in every religion like to put men’s ability to control women over women’s right to, you know, live and stuff.
The EVAW law is in effect in Afghanistan, and has been since 2009 by presidential decree. But it’s important that it be passed by parliament so the next president doesn’t overturn it. However, women’s rights organizations fear that the parliament will water down the law and cause Afghan women to suffer.
Not that the last couple of years have been all sunshine and roses for Afghan women. Over the last year and a half, 50% more women have been arrested for “moral crimes,” up from 400 in October 2011 to 600 in May 2013 according to Human Rights Watch. Women who are victims of domestic violence or forced marriages are often treated as criminals.
Under Afghan law, running away is not a crime. However, the Afghan Supreme Court has told judges to regard as criminals women who flee their homes, the rights group said in a statement issued Tuesday.
“Four years after the adoption of a law on violence against women and 12 years after Taliban rule, women are still imprisoned for being victims of forced marriage, domestic violence and rape,” said Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch’s Asia director. “The Afghan government needs to get tough on abusers of women and stop blaming women who are crime victims.”
It looks like the parliament, at least, is not heading that advice. Blerg.
Moreover, girls and women who are forced by circumstance to run away are subject to forced virginity tests. According to Human Rights Watch:
Women and girls accused of “moral crimes” are routinely subjected to “virginity tests” that courts rely on for the purpose of determining virginity and whether a woman or girl engaged in recent sexual intercourse. These exams can be ordered by any police official, and some women are subjected to multiple vaginal exams without informed consent for no justifiable reason. Use of such examinations is not limited to rape cases, and examinations do not focus on documenting medical injuries or collecting physical evidence to support an allegation of sexual assault. Although medical examinations can be a legitimate form of investigation in cases of alleged sexual assault, gynecological exams that purport to determine “virginity” have no medical accuracy. Use of such tests constitutes cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment under international law.
So basically sexual assault. Great.
The situation is certainly not encouraging. However, there are indications that Afghan president Hamid Karzai is putting pressure on members of parliament behind the scenes. Maybe, with the international community watching, the parliament will do the right thing.
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