Afghanistan: Women's groups protest new laws

The Feminist School & The New York Times
Statement of Iranian Women’s Movement in Support of Women in Afghanistan Against their New Family Law. Also About 300 Afghan women walked the streets of the capital on Wednesday to demand that Parliament repeal a new law.
Some groups from the women’s movement in Iran issued this statement in Support of Women in Afghanistan Against their New Family Law [Translated from the Persian]: "Our tormented Afghani sisters. We, the Iranian women’s movement activists have been trying regularly and responsibly to follow activities, achievements and failures of women in the area. Because we believe that each achievement or failure which is faced by women specially in our region can have reciprocal effects on Iranian women and our society at large.
"We have experienced that we are able to amend our moves in order to gain equal rights by learning from each other. Hence when we were informed that a new law called "Family Law" was approved in Afghanistan we decided to unite in your cause and struggle against the anti woman law.

"In this law, women specially Afghan Shi’ite women will be limited severely. This law affects 20% of Afghanistan’s citizens and increases men’s power in the family and greatly reduces women’s human rights. Article 133 of this law allows men to decide on their wives employment and in another bill women are not allowed to leave home without their husbands permission unless there is an emergency. The legal age of marriage for Shiite girls decreases from 18 to 16 in this law, and "marital rape", which is in contravention of human rights and The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), was announced as legal and is a cause of oppression towards Afghan’s women.

"President Karzai stated that this law has been misunderstood! Our question is this what our we suppose to understand besides sexual slavery from this law? Is it not obvious that the respect and human rights of women have been forgotten and the sole purpose of women has been reduced to providing a sexual service for men?

"Unfortunately, most of these discriminatory laws which are being considered for Shiite Afghan women in the new family law, exist more or less in Iran’s Family law. However, fortunately with the equality movement in Iran the anti-women laws are being challenged. If you have been following our struggle you would be aware that last year a new law, the "Family protection Bill", was proposed and was challenged and condemned by all. Although we managed to throw the Bill out of parliament this does not mean we have nullified all the anti-women bills in our country.

"We have to be vigilant against that such laws that have a negative effects in society and also increases violence against Shiite women do not spread to laws for Sunni women and that other religions don't follow suit. We congratulate you the Shiite and Sunni women are united in your struggle to defeat the anti-women law. No doubt your courage and united struggle has given us the courage to stand up and support your struggle.

"We welcome president Karzai’s statement on reviewing this law and we hope the reform of this law will benefit all women regardless of their religion or ethnicity and will contain resolutions for equality, anti-violence, justice and humanity.

The statement has been issued by the following groups:

Focus on Iranian Women

The Feminist School

Women’s Field (Meydaan)

Women’s Commission of Tahkim Vahdat (Strethening Unity )

Women’s Committee of Tahkim Vahdat Iranian Researchers’ Association

Committee of Human Rights Reporters

Health Activists Association (Talashgaran Salamat)

Farasoo Association (Tabriz)

14 April 2009

Source: The Feminist School