There have been demonstrations in Kabul for and against a controversial new law which opponents say legalises the rape of many married women in Afghanistan. The Shi-ite Afghan Personal Status Law has been widely condemned in the west for curbing women’s rights. It applies to the minority Shi-ite population, and has already been signed by President Hamid Karzai.
Sima Ghani, a member of a society that supports women’s rights said: “The gathering is to oppose the recent law against Shi-ite rights. We actually see it as a law that’s limiting women’s rights. No matter what religion we belong to, what sects we follow, we all stand against this law. We want a reform of the law, we want a revisit of it and overturn of it.” Many though showed their support for the law which obliges Shi-ite women to have sex with their husbands at least once every four days, and forbids them from leaving their home without their husband’s permission. The US President Barack Obama called it “abhorrent” but supporters say it has been misinterpreted in the West. Qodsia Frotan, a law student from a Shi-ite university said: “We totally reject any disagreement and criticism. The criticisms of the people who oppose this law are completely baseless and we reject them.” There are MPs in Afghanistan who believe President Karzai was hasty in signing the bill into law, in the hope that it would win him crucial Shi-ite votes in August’s election.