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Monday, 17 August 2009

Afghanistan: New law says husbands can Starve wives who refuse sex

The repressive family law that just went into effect in Afghanistan, at least, should make us pause to consider whether there is a good outcome in that nation.

The law, a tamer version of one that caused an international outcry earlier this year, allows men to withhold food from a wife who refuses to have sex. For as long as he sees fit. That's right, husbands have been given the option of starving their wives to death.

The law also leaves a woman's right to work solely in the hands of her husband. And this is the compromise law?

The fact is, it has the tacit, at least, support of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. This is the man Afghanis Congress applauded wildly five years ago. He's also the guy Afghanis are almost certain to re-elect later this week as President.

It's been said he controls Kabul, and little else. It's also been said his support for this family law is an attempt to gain some support among the conservative Shi'ite population that pushed it.

I'd say, however, that if the way forward in this central Asian country is paved with such fine legislation, than we really need to redefine what it means to be winning.

We like to mix and match Iraq and Afghanistan in our minds. But as former U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker noted, America is trying to rebuild Iraq. In Afghanistan, we're starting from scratch.

This is a very bad building block. The fact that it's seen as necessary for sucess there is a very bad sign for our future in that country.

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