Monday, June 29, 2009

The Rape Law is back in the news...

After being in the headlines for a week or so in April the international outrage at Afghanistan's "Rape Law" sort of died down. Back then I had written quite a few posts about it, so let's go over the basics of it for those who don't remember:

1- The law states that: "women must obey their husband’s sexual demands and that a man can expect to have sex with his wife at least ‘once every four nights’ when traveling, unless they are ill." It also prohibits women from going to the doctor or leaving their home without their husband's protection.

2- "Article 132 legalizes the rape of a wife by her husband." (Unifem, the United Nations)

I could list a million quotes on this, or recount the reactions of many of the world's politician but the truth is that on April 7th when Hamid Karzai stated that he would revisit the law, but that the process would take 2 to 3 months.... (It's been almost three months now and there's an election coming up in Afghanistan in August)... the world's politicians were more than happy to see this issue disappear from the news. I can't believe that we didn't stay on top of this and that nothing new has come out of it.

Today in the Globe and Mail there's an article stating that Canada was warned in advance of this law, but that apparently our diplomats in Afghanistan didn't think that it was important enough to inform the parliament which still claims that it didn't know anything.

So there was a hearing and when asked one of our senior Canadian bureaucrats in Afghanistan said: “The law was not a focus of Afghan national political debate. We are unaware of any domestic media coverage in Afghanistan during this legislative process.” (Yves Brodeur)

If that were true then why did women who opposed the law and spoke out assassinated in the street?

And why did Soraya Sobharang, a prominent member of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission say: "Western countries let down the women of her country"? (Canada is the country who is basically paying for Afghanistan's Human Rights Commission.)

In the end I'm glad the Globe and Mail had an article about this yesterday for a few reasons: it keeps our government on its toes knowing that someone is watching... But mostly because this is something that I want to be able to follow until the August election, this law was wrong in April, it is still wrong today, the International Community needs to pressure these governments to treat their citizens in an fair and equal manner. This isn't about public relations and photo opportunities, this is about the life of women for generations to come in a country that our friends and neighbors died (and are still dying) to protect.

Muchacho Enfermo

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