Friday, April 03, 2009

Marital Rape in Afghanistan

April has been Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the U.S. for nine years now, established by The National Sexual Violence Resource Center. It doesn't hurt to look beyond national borders too, however, as Jim West does, noting the new Afghan law that legalizes marital rape:
"A new Afghan law makes it legal for men to rape their wives, human rights groups and some Afghan lawmakers said Thursday, accusing President Hamid Karzai of signing the legislation to bolster his re-election prospects. Critics worry the legislation undermines hard-won rights for women enacted after the fall of the Taliban's strict Islamist regime. The law — which some lawmakers say was never debated in parliament — is intended to regulate family life inside Afghanistan's Shiite community, which makes up about 20 percent of this country of 30 million people. The law does not affect Afghan Sunnis. One of the most controversial articles stipulates the wife 'is bound to preen for her husband as and when he desires.'. . . 'As long as the husband is not traveling, he has the right to have sexual intercourse with his wife every fourth night,' Article 132 of the law says. 'Unless the wife is ill or has any kind of illness that intercourse could aggravate, the wife is bound to give a positive response to the sexual desires of her husband.'"
But I found this part curious:
"One provision also appears to protect the woman's right to sex inside marriage saying the 'man should not avoid having sexual relations with his wife longer than once every four months.'"
So husbands can demand sex of their wives every fourth night, and women can demand sex of their husbands once every four months. Hmm. Something wrong with that picture, from many angles, though that's more a two-way street that I would have imagined.

UPDATE: From CBC News. If it weren't so outrageous the rationale of the Muslim cleric who defends the law would be hilarious:
"It is not possible for all women to pay the same amount of money as men are paying. For all these expenses, can't we at least give the right to a husband to demand sex from his wife after four nights?... If she is not sick, and if she does not have another problem, it is the right of a man to ask for sex and she should make herself ready for it. This is the right of a man... The Westerners claim that they have brought democracy to Afghanistan. What does democracy mean? It means government by the people for the people. They should let the people use these democratic rights."
He means, of course, that we should let the men use these 'democratic' rights.


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