Wednesday, April 1, 2009


 For the longest time I've beome more and more tired of the restrictions, all the superior fearfulness of people telling you, 'you shouldn't do this ...' and 'you shouldn't do that ...'  Not only does it seem to clog up the news networks across the world but the blogs are full of it too.

Doesn't anyone but me get sick to the back teeth with it?  Doesn't anyone but me feel a tightening of the stomach and a ringing in the head and a wish to shoot the bully who is telling me how to live my life?

So why am I thinking about it today?  Because I've just read an article about legalising rape in Afghanistan. Why am I posting this particular issue on a blog which is supposed to be about the Middle East? For two reasons, many people connect these kind of laws with Muslims ~especially if they don't know the area, but do know the religion of choice in Afghanistan is Islam~ and because I'm so saddened by what I have just read.

The article is cut and pasted in its entirity, as I couldn't say it any better, from: JEZEBEL

U.S.-Backed Afghan Government Passes Pro-Rape Law To Win Election
US-backed Afghani President Hamid Karzai is poised to issue a law on women's rights that the UN Development Fund for Women has warned against and a female Parliamentarian calls "worse than during the Taliban."

The law would legalize marital rape; require women to seek their husband's permission to leave the house; additionally mean that women obtain their husband's permission to see a doctor, go to school or work; and eliminate the child custody rights of women in the event of divorce or widowhood. No, for real. This is what the government we've installed is about to do to half its citizens. Our government — which is happily handing out Viagra in tribal areas to ensure the military and intelligence cooperation of impotent warlords — is backing the President of a country who is putting into effect a new law which legislates away what few rights those warlords' wives have. I guess somebody in the embassy forgot to read Hillary Clinton's confirmation hearing testimony in which she promised to elevate the status of women's rights in foregin policy.

And why do you think our puppet government is perfect happy to legislate away the hard-fought rights of half its citizens — rights, by the way, that the U.S. actually sort of fought for on their behalf? To increase Karzai's chance of winning re-election in a country that is sick of his increasingly corrupt and ineffective government. There's a reason they call the guy the Mayor of Kabul.
After seven years leading Afghanistan, Karzai is increasingly unpopular at home and abroad and the presidential election in August is expected to be extremely closely fought. A western diplomat said the law represented a "big tick in the box" for the powerful council of Shia clerics.
Leaders of the Hazara minority, which is regarded as the most important bloc of swing voters in the election, also demanded the new law.

Ustad Mohammad Akbari, an MP and the leader of a Hazara political party, said the president had supported the law in order to curry favour among the Hazaras.

And if that's not fun enough, check out how well the Islamic supporters of the law can parrot the talking points of American conservatives when it comes to women and "innate" differences.
But [Akbari] said the law actually protected women's rights.
"Men and women have equal rights under Islam but there are differences in the way men and women are created. Men are stronger and women are a little bit weaker; even in the west you do not see women working as firefighters."

By the way, Akbari says that women can refuse sex with their husbands if they are sick or have a "reasonable" excuse — not that they could, like, prosecute that or anything — and they would totally be allowed to leave the house without permission in an emergency. There's, naturally, nothing in the law that defines a reasonable excuse or an emergency, but I'm assuming that will be for the husband or male authorities to determine.

Of course, Afghanistan's Western allies (ie., the U.S. and its allies) have been suspiciously quiet about this heinous new law, being as Karzai's people have convinced us that it's the only way he can win the election.
"It is going to be tricky to change because it gets us into territory of being accused of not respecting Afghan culture, which is always difficult," a western diplomat in Kabul admitted.
Soraya Sobhrang, the head of women's affairs at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said western silence had been "disastrous for women's rights in Afghanistan".

"What the international community has done is really shameful. If they had got more involved in the process when it was discussed in parliament we could have stopped it. Because of the election I am not sure we can change it now. It's too late for that."

Some diplomats are claiming that we'll, like, totes object when the law is final.

Some female Parliamentarians are trying to see the silver lining in the big black cloud of this law, at least until their husbands rescind their permission to work. Some female politicians have taken a more pragmatic stance, saying their fight in parliament's lower house succeeded in improving the law, including raising the original proposed marriage age of girls from nine to 16 and removing completely provisions for temporary marriages.
"It's not really 100% perfect, but compared to the earlier drafts it's a huge improvement," said Shukria Barakzai, an MP.


Christine said...

Hello! Greetings from China. I follow your blog for quite a while, since I found it through another one. I read all the blog from your very first post up to now (skipping the learning Arabic parts;) ). I want to say thank you and want to say that I respect your work a lot! I was to shy to comment, your work as a blogger is very useful, informative and constructive and moreover sets for me an example what blogging can be used for (I am a small kid in comparison to you).

About the article you mention... I am greeting you form China, where I live for a little while, and you know...I also here "you shouldn't or do this..." or in our local version "it's not good to this...", and I wonder how long people can stand it... When you live in China for a long time enough you start to understand the words "freedom of speech" and "freedom of thought". This is what your today's post reminds me about. I am you have the feeling that while living in our home countries, we really do not appreciates these rights? I am sorry if this questions seems stupid to you, but it's curiosity coming from the experience of living abroad (which I do for most of my life).

Thank you for the information and wish you good day:)


wgaw said...

Thanks for the comments and good to know you're finding the blog interesting/useful.

I think in general i didn't know what i had until it had gone - the freedom i had as a child to leave the house at 9 in the morning and wander the countryside with friends until lunch time, return home and do the same again in the afternoon.

the current trend for following rules and legislation is quite a difficult thing for me to handle, either statute or religious, under the threat of fear, e.g. you mustn't do this .... you won't go to heaven if you do this ... you mustn't do that .... you won't go to heaven if you don't do this ....

I think it's easier to see when you're outside your home country, but i reckon you can never legislate against stuipidity.