Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Legalized Rape in Afghanistan

Hamid Karzai is hopeless.

We've known this for a long time now. While I understand he faces some pretty tough conditions, the corruption of the Afghani government has only emboldened the Taliban. He holds elections, but he clearly has no intention of giving up power. And as the Americans have done at least since the beginning of the Cold War, we continue to back terrible rulers in the name of stability. You'd think that we'd learn our lesson about this by now, but we clearly have not.

Anyway, in an effort to gain support from fundamentalists before the upcoming election, today Karzai signed the "Sharia Family Law." What does this do? Among other things:

In a massive blow for women's rights, the new Shia Family Law negates the need for sexual consent between married couples, tacitly approves child marriage and restricts a woman's right to leave the home, according to UN papers seen by The Independent....

Article 132 requires women to obey their husband's sexual demands and stipulates that a man can expect to have sex with his wife at least "once every four nights" when travelling, unless they are ill. The law also gives men preferential inheritance rights, easier access to divorce, and priority in court.

A report by the United Nations Development Fund for Women, Unifem, warned: "Article 132 legalises the rape of a wife by her husband".

I know we are fighting a war on terror or something. Even if we aren't calling it that anymore. But how can we possibly support a ruler who has no interest in providing even basic human rights for half his people? I know that under Eisenhower or Johnson or Reagan, this law would not affect U.S. support in the least. I think it's really important that Obama break from the past and condemn Karzai for this, even at the risk of costing him the election. Of course, an open U.S. attack would probably be the best thing for his short-term electoral prospects, but the withdrawal of American aid would doom his ability to stay in power. And could his replacement really be that much worse?

Via Amanda
, who no doubt will be attacked from O'Reilly over this post too. I'm sure Bill O would love a law like this in the United States.