KABUL, Afghanistan — Conservative religious lawmakers in Afghanistan blocked legislation on 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Khalil Ahmad Shaheedzada, a conservative lawmaker for Herat province, said the legislation was withdrawn shortly after being introduced in parliament because of an uproar by religious parties who said parts of the law are un-Islamic.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.
There has been spotty enforcement of the law as it stands. A United Nations analysis in late 2011 found only a small percentage of reported crimes against women were pursued by the Afghan government. Between March 2010 and March 2011 – the first full Afghan year the decree was in effect – prosecutors filed criminal charges in only 155 cases, or 7 percent of the total number of crimes reported.
The child marriage ban and the idea of protecting female rape victims from prosecution were particularly heated subjects in Saturday’s parliamentary debate, said Nasirullah Sadiqizada Neli, a conservative lawmaker from Daykundi province.
Neli suggested that removing the custom – common in Afghanistan – of prosecuting raped women for adultery would lead to social chaos, with women freely engaging in extramarital sex safe in the knowledge they could claim rape if caught.
Another lawmaker, Mandavi Abdul Rahmani of Barlkh province, also opposed the law’s rape provision.
“Adultery itself is a crime in Islam, whether it is by force or not,” Rahmani said.
He said the Quran also makes clear that a husband has a right to beat a disobedient wife as a last resort, as long as she is not permanently harmed. “But in this law,” he said, “It says if a man beats his wife at all, he should be jailed for three months to three years.”
Lawmaker Shaheedzada also claimed that the law might encourage disobedience among girls and women, saying it reflected Western values not applicable in Afghanistan.
“Even now in Afghanistan, women are running from their husbands. Girls are running from home,” Shaheedzada said. “Such laws give them these ideas.”
More freedoms for women are one of the most visible – and symbolic – changes in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led campaign that toppled the Taliban regime. While in power, the Taliban imposed a strict interpretation of Islam that put severe curbs on the freedom of women.
For five years, the regime banned women from working and going to school, or even leaving home without a male relative. In public, all women were forced wear a head-to-toe burqa, which covers even the face with a mesh panel. Violators were publicly flogged or executed.
Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, women’s freedoms have improved vastly, but Afghanistan remains a deeply conservative culture, especially in rural areas.
Saturday’s failure of the legislation in parliament reflected the power of religious parties but changed little on the ground, since the decree is still the law of the land, however loosely enforced. Kofi said the parliament decided to send the legislation to committee, and it could come to a vote again later this year.
“We will work on this law,” she said. “We will bring it back.”
Some activists, however, worry about potential changes to the law. Bringing the legislation before parliament also opened it up to being amended, leaving the possibility that conservatives will seek to weaken it by stripping out provisions they dislike – or even vote to repeal it.
“There’s a real risk this has opened a Pandora’s box, that this may have galvanized opposition to this decree by people who in principle oppose greater rights for women,” said Heather Barr, a researcher for Human Rights Watch.
That’s true for lawmaker Rahmani, who said President Hamid Karzai should never have issued the decree and wants it changed, if not repealed.
“We cannot have an Islamic country with basically Western laws,” he said.
(Source: The Huffington Post)
A Fox News guest on Thursday slammed President Barack Obama’s transportation secretary nominee, connecting him to an 18th century scientific movement that embraced reason, which she said was partially to blame for the Holocaust.
Fox News host Steve Doocy asked Penny Nance, CEO of the Christian activist group Concerned Women for America, if she could make any sense out of why Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx would proclaim May 2 as both a “Day of Prayer” and a “Day of Reason.”
“He comes from North Carolina, which has the 7th highest church attendance, clearly he’s not running for re-election since he’s up for transportation secretary,” she opined. “You know, G. K. Chesterton said that the Doctrine of Original Sin is the only one which we have 3,000 years of empirical evidence to back up. Clearly, we need faith as a component and it’s just silly for us to say otherwise.”
“You know, the Age of Enlightenment and Reason gave way to moral relativism. And moral relativism is what led us all the way down the dark path to the Holocaust… Dark periods of history is what we arrive at when we leave God out of the equation.”
It wasn’t blind nationalism, or racism, or hero worship or political fear-mongering or religious superiority that led to the Holocaust… Nooooo.. It was Reason. You see, all those Nazis were just too darn reasonable.
The right is taking the gloves off after the Boston bombing. The most influential conservative media online is full-on embracing the conspiracy theorists who say it was the government who attacked, it was the government who staged the Boston bombing as a false flag attack. On the televised conservative media, it is a full-on religious war now, the problem is Muslims, the solution is an American war on Muslims.
These forces have always existed on the right and they are now though as mainstream as they have ever been, where are the countervailing forces on the right, if there are any, and where does this all end?"
Tony Perkins: “If Congress wants to stop these tragedies, then it has to address the government’s own hostility to the institution of the family and organizations that can address the real problem: the human heart. As I’ve said before, America doesn’t need gun control, it needs self-control. And a Congress that actively discourages it—through abortion, family breakdown, sexual liberalism, or religious hostility—is only compounding the problem.”
Are you a feminist? Do you support a woman’s right to choose? Are you a single parent? Do you support gay adoption? Do you have unmarried or homosexual sex? Do you oppose an employers right to dictate the terms of their employees healthcare coverage based on their own religious objections?
If you answered yes to any of that, Tony Perkins and the FRC think you share some blame for Newtown and Boston. You thought you were just sharing your life with the person you love, or supporting your friends in doing the same… who would have thought you were actually supporting domestic terrorism!? I guess it’s a thought that only occurs to the the most reactionary right-wingers.
"Many of our Christians … want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote … As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
(Media Matters) - When political novices fly too close to the Fox News flame, they risk getting burned. Just ask Dr. Ben Carson.
After profiting from a Fox News public relations blitz for much of the past two months, during which he logged at least twenty appearances on the network, the famous neurosurgeon, who has been toasted inside right-wing circles as a possible GOP savior, has suddenly been forced to defend his “trainwreck” interview where helikened marriage equality supporters to people advocating pedophilia and bestiality.
not only did Carson badly stumble with his shocking comments about marriage equality, but as we’ve seen from this predictable model, he’s also been turned into a professional victim by the right-wing media, whose practitioners like nothing better than ignoring substantive debates in order to complain about alleged biases in the press coverage. (All the while being careful not to actually repeat or explain what Carson’s scandalous remarks were, of course.)
Cue Rush Limbaugh:
-“We are in the midst of mob rule now. In this case led by the trolls at Media Matters and aided and abetted by the so-called mainstream media.”
-“Amidst all this talk of equality, Ben Carson is not allowed to voice his opinion.”
And from excitable Breitbart editor John Nolte:
Any one notice a pattern here? I’ll give you a hint, when is the only time the right-wing talking heads seem to care about racism or sexism?
I also love how these guys like to act like they are being victimized whenever there’s backlash against something hateful or bigoted they’ve said.
No one stopped him from voicing his opinion, he voiced it, and a lot of people thought it was a shitty opinion. That’s the way the grown up world works.
Reblogging for commentary^^^
(AlterNet) - Attendees at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) were reportedly thrilled by a short sci-fi video depicting a dictatorial near-future government and the underground “Movement on Fire” that springs up to resist it. The video, a thinly veiled advertisement for violent insurrection from the “Tea Party Patriots” group, boasts professional acting and Hollywood production values. But underneath its bright, professional sheen lurk dark overtones of End Times paranoia that will resonate with millions of American fundamentalists. Its apocalyptic imagery is as ancient as Revelations, its glossy look as modern as a Revlon ad, and its near-subliminal barrage of rapid-cut imagery rings with the terror-fueled sermons of 1,000 preachers.
This was shown at CPAC. CPAC. THE conservative conference.
This isn’t just the fringe element of the right, it IS the right. This kind of thing is becoming more and more mainstream with them and it’s quite frankly horrifying.
"Conservative moralists don’t want women to have control over their bodies or same-sex couples to marry, but they don’t give a hoot about billionaires taking over our democracy for personal gain or big bankers taking over our economy. Yet these violations of public morality are far more dangerous to our society because they undermine the public trust that’s essential to both our democracy and economy."
Rand Paul at CPAC about foreign aid to Egypt: ‘Not one penny more to countries that are burning our flag!’
That’s right, buddy. No more Social Security checks for you and your American friends.
So, it’s the country of Egypt that burns the American flag? It’s not individuals in the country? Rand Paul holds all of Egypt responsible for the things any Egyptians do? Because if I had to be responsible for things other Americans do, I’d like to get off right now.