Quick Hit: The Afghan Rape Law

April 6, 2009

I just want to share briefly how saddened I am by a new Afghanistan law commonly known now as the “Afghan Rape Law.” This law, passed just a few days ago, was called “abhorrent” by President Obama. Basically, it legalizes rape of a woman by her husband. From Think Progress:

“As long as the husband is not traveling, he has the right to have sexual intercourse with his wife every fourth night,” Article 132 of the law says. “Unless the wife is ill or has any kind of illness that intercourse could aggravate, the wife is bound to give a positive response to the sexual desires of her husband.”

The law would also force women to get their spouses’ permission before leaving the house, looking for a job, going to the doctor or receiving education.

The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), said the law “legalizes the rape of a wife by her husband. … The law violates women’s rights and human rights in numerous ways.”

The good news is, after substantial international outcry Afghani president Hamid karzai has agreed to “review” the law. However, he still argues the law has been “misinterpreted” by the West. Really? Seems pretty clear to me.



  1. Karzai saying he will “review” the law is a blatant lie. His only reasoning for even saying that, sadly, is to deceptively convince Americans that he understands their concern and will work to his best degree to remedy the situation.

    Simply put: Karzai wont do a damn thing. The unfortunate reality is that the disparity between men and women rights are so outdated in many countries all over the world that progress in developed nations alone will never convince the Karzai-like people of change.

    You cant teach an old Karzai common sense…

    • Yeah, I am worried that you may be right. Karzai *said* he will review it, but no one can be sure that he really cares. He supported the legislation in the first place due to political pressure from some of the groups in Afghanistan- I don’t see him backing down that quickly, especially if he is defending it and saying we “misinterpreted” it…. He’s been getting a lot of international backlash though, particularly from Gordon Brown. So let’s hope he really does listen.

  2. This law absolutely sickens me. No one has the right to tell a woman what to do with her body. I believe Karzai didn’t think anyone would “notice” this law and wasn’t prepared for the backlash he was bound to receive once others found out about this law. He’s not going to do anything.

    • I agree it’s sickening, and Karzai doesn’t want to do anything about it. But enough international pressure can and inevitably I think WILL force him to take action.

  3. I really do hope Karzai does comply with demands to have the law struck down, but leaders like Karzai barely ever let outside pressure influence their own decision-making. Here’s the sad part: even if by some stroke of luck Karzai does review and strike the law, will that really make a difference in Afghanistan? Itll be a great stepping stone, but the unfortunate reality is that the cultural norms more than likely dictated the legislation in the first place; getting rid of the law wont change the highly conservative cultural norms that have remained prevalent in the region since the beginning.

    There are unfortunately some battles we just cant win that easily

  4. Afghanistan has always had extremely cruel situations regarding women, even without this new law the situation there is appalling, the country has so long been a pawn, a gateway, or seen as something needed by this country or that and discarded by this country or that depending on what is anyone’s best interest at the moment.

    The country has never been stable enough or of sound enough government to allow for the women to stand up for their own cause, because of the history thrust upon it by other governments. I hope it’s different this time, but I fear what we are doing now will be just as destructive and leaving for Iraq and letting the Taliban back in, thud …making laws such as this.

  5. While targeting women is an outrageous aspect of everything Islamic, including this legislation, targeting the women of one of Afghanistan’s most ignored and persecuted ethnic groups i.e. the Hazaras, is even worse.

    This law is yet another attempt to undermine the progress Hazaras have made during the last eight years. The facts speak for themselves. Hazara women still refuse to wear full hijab, they have had active participation in programs like Afghan Star. They hold posts such as Afghanistan’s only female governor, only female mayor, head of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission and more in NGO’s and offices across the country. Hazarajat has had the most promising female to male ratio in school and university enrollment.

    These are facts, unmatched in any of the areas Karzai or his cronies could ever actually represent. He can review it all he wants, the architects of this law is a Pushtoon from Karzai’s hometown. He is pleasing his own electorate at the expense of the Hazaras. What a shame!

    • Interesting perspective. I’ve heard different opinions on the state of Hazaras vs. the rest of Afghanistan. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  6. The situation is disheartening, however I do not believe Karzi is directly to blame. The country is run by militants and these practices are part of the cultural norm, how can any foreign influences make a difference? Karzi is in a tough spot, forced to respect these backward organizations that are scattered throughout the country and at the same time try and impose strict governance over these districts. It disappoints me that many of these Islamic militants deface their religion and the people who practice it in the manner it should be.

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