May 19, 2013 in Nation/World

Women’s rights law blocked in Afghanistan

Conservatives say it violates Islamic law
Kay Johnson Associated Press
Police chief slain

KABUL, Afghanistan – A police chief who had stood up repeatedly to the Taliban was shot and killed in a drive-by attack by four insurgents on motorcycles, officials said Saturday.

The police chief, Abdul Ghani, was pulling out of his driveway about 8 p.m. Friday when the attackers rode up on two motorcycles and opened fire, officials said. He died on the way to a hospital, said Abdul Rahman Zhowandai, a spokesman for the governor of Farah province, where Ghani lived and worked.

Ghani recently led an anti-Taliban campaign in the province, including a crackdown on insurgents in his district of Khaki Safed that resulted in several Taliban leaders being captured or killed. Those efforts probably led to his killing, officials said.

Los Angeles Times

KABUL, Afghanistan – Conservative religious lawmakers in Afghanistan blocked legislation Saturday aimed at strengthening provisions for women’s freedoms, arguing that parts of it violate Islamic principles and encourage disobedience.

The fierce opposition highlights how tenuous women’s rights remain a dozen years after the ouster of the hard-line Taliban regime, whose strict interpretation of Islam once kept Afghan women virtual prisoners in their homes.

Khalil Ahmad Shaheedzada, a conservative lawmaker for Herat province, said the legislation was withdrawn shortly after being introduced in parliament because of an uproar by religious parties who said parts of the law are un-Islamic.

“Whatever is against Islamic law, we don’t even need to speak about it,” Shaheedzada said.

The Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women has been in effect since 2009, but only by presidential decree. It is being brought before parliament now because lawmaker Fawzia Kofi, a women’s rights activist, wants to cement it with a parliamentary vote to prevent its potential reversal by any future president who might be tempted to repeal it to satisfy hard-line religious parties.

The law criminalizes, among other things, child marriage and forced marriage, and bans “baad,” the traditional practice of exchanging girls and women to settle disputes. It makes domestic violence a crime punishable by up to three years in prison and specifies that rape victims should not face criminal charges for fornication or adultery.

Kofi, who plans to run for president in next year’s elections, said she was disappointed because among those who oppose upgrading the law from presidential decree to legislation passed by parliament are women.

Afghanistan’s parliament has more than 60 female lawmakers, mostly due to constitutional provisions reserving certain seats for women.

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