Hundreds of Afghan women protesting a new Shia family law that would severely restrict women's rights were outnumbered by hundreds of the law's supporters today in Kabul. Some of the women were pelted with small stones. Afghan civil rights and women's rights activists organized the protest, according to the The Guardian. In a statement, the groups said that the law "insults dignity of women as fellow human beings and increases ethnocentrism and inequality."
Masuma Hasani, a 14-year-old protester, told the Associated Press that "I am concerned about my future with this law….We want our rights. We don't want women to just be used." A counter-protester, 24-year-old Mariam Sajadi, told the Associated Press "we don't want foreigners interfering in our lives. They are the enemy of Afghanistan."
According to The Guardian the law contains provisions that would restrict women from leaving their homes, working, going to school, or obtaining medical care without their husbands' permission. The law also includes a provision that women cannot refuse their husbands sex and a provision that grants child custody only to men. Ustad Mohammad Akbari, leader of the Hazara party, told The Guardian that the law gives women the right to refuse sex with their husbands if they are ill or have a "reasonable excuse" and allows women the right to leave their homes without permission in an emergency.
This past weekend, Afghan Ambassador to the US Said Jawad told Bloomberg that the law "will not become the law because it contradicts some important principles of the Afghan constitution" and that President Karzai does not plan to publish it. Jawad also said Karzai signed the law without being aware of all of its provisions and has sent the likely unconstitutional law to be reviewed by the Afghan Ministry of Justice and the Afghan Supreme Court.
Media Resources: Feminist Daily Newswire 4/14/09; The Guardian 3/31/09, 4/15/09; The Associated Press 4/15/09; Bloomberg 4/11/09