Well, this is a big step forward for women’s rights in Afghanistan: the Afghan constitution no longer requires women to service their husbands on command, although it does specify some of their other duties as housewives.
Get out in the kitchen, Aisha, and rattle them pots and pans!
According to The Globe and Mail:
Karzai Government Revises ‘Marital Rape’ Law
Afghanistan’s government has revised a law that stirred an international outcry because it essentially legalized marital rape, officials said yesterday. The new version no longer requires a woman to submit to sex with her husband, only that she do certain housework.
The changes, which parliament is expected to approve, likely reflect a calculation by President Hamid Karzai that his reputation as a reformer is more important than support from conservative Shiites who favoured the original bill.
Presidential spokesman Humayun Hamidzada said the revisions show that Mr. Karzai has followed through on a pledge made in April to expunge the offensive parts of the marriage law, which applies only to minority Shia Muslims.
Women’s rights activists welcomed the new draft, but many said the government has not done enough and that little will change in day-to-day life.
“We need a change in customs, and this is just on paper. What is being practised every day, in Kabul even, is worse than the laws,” said Shukria Barakzai, a lawmaker and vocal women’s rights advocate.
Mr. Karzai signed the original law in March but quickly suspended enforcement after governments around the world condemned the legislation. Critics saw it as a return to Taliban-style oppression of women by a government that was supposed to be promoting democracy and human rights. U.S. President Barack Obama labelled the original version “abhorrent.”
Even within this conservative Muslim society, a host of academics and politicians signed a petition condemning the law, and women took to the streets of Kabul in protest.
Two of the most controversial articles have been drastically changed, according to documents supplied by the government. An article that previously required a wife to submit to regular sex now requires her only to perform whatever household chores the couple agreed to when they married. The revised version makes no attempt to regulate sexual relations between husband and wife.
A section that required a wife to ask her husband’s permission to leave the house has also been deleted. In its place, an article states that a woman is the “owner of her property and can use her property without the permission of her husband.”
The catch in all this is the traditional content of pre-marital agreements:
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Roshan Sirran, who heads a group that informs women of their rights under Islamic and international law, said the new version still relies too much on agreements entered into at the time of marriage. Such contracts aren’t a traditional part of an engagement or marriage in Afghanistan, she said.
Other critics said men have too much freedom to marry second wives without consulting their first wives. Islam allows men up to four wives.
Parliament is in recess and will not convene again for nearly two weeks. Afghanistan’s influential clerics council and civil society leaders will also have to sign off on the revised law.
Even with the revisions, some activists said not much will change in women’s lives.
“Still there are forced marriages and child marriages and the lack of access to property, and the lack of access to divorce,” Ms. Barakzai said. “Still a girl, because she’s a girl, can’t go to school, in very rich families even.”
Hat tip: TB.