As many of you will already be aware, President Karzai of Afghanistan has signed a new law that is detrimental to the women of Afghanistan and in particular Shiite Muslim Women. The law has not been enforced yet but has been debated in the Afghan Parliament and signed by 249 members including 68 women.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay made a statement condemning the new law on 2 April, saying:

“This is another clear indication that the human rights situation in Afghanistan is getting worse not better. Respect for women’s rights – and human rights in general – is of paramount importance to Afghanistan’s future security and development. This law is a huge step in the wrong direction.”

Soroptimists are appalled at this intended legislation to be introduced in Afghanistan and urge President Karzai to rescind this new legislation with immediate effect. The Rights of Women are to be protected under all circumstances and this law takes away those rights and makes them prisoners and slaves to their husbands and victims of gross violations. UNHCHR details the new restrictions on Shiite women which include denying them the right to leave their homes except for ‘legitimate’ purposes; working or receiving education without their husbands’ express permission, as well as explicitly permitting marital rape.

I encourage every Soroptimist to write to their individual governments requesting that they condemn this new law that is to be introduced into Afghanistan and ask President Karzai to respect the rights of all women in Afghanistan.

Margaret Lobo
President, Soroptimist International

Swarms of angry men shouting epithets and hurling stones confronted hundreds of Afghan women who staged a rare public protest yesterday against a law that allows husbands to demand sex from their wives. Read the full article and statistics from the Globe & Mail »

It used to be a mission to give a future to little girls. Now the government is scrambling to explain why Canadian troops are fighting for an Afghanistan that legalizes rape within marriage. Read the full article from the Globe & Mail »

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