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Khalil Ahmad Shaheedzada, a conservative lawmaker for Herat province, said the legislation was withdrawn shortly after being introduced in parliament because of an uproar by religious parties who said parts of the law are un-Islamic.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)
Topless Women in Public Not Breaking the Law Says NYPD
Ladies of New York , you are free to walk bare-breasted through the city! New York City’s 34,000 police officers have been instructed that, should they encounter a woman in public who is shirtless but obeying the law, they should not arrest her. This is a good step towards gender parity in public spaces.
This decision means that breast exposure is not considered public lewdness, indecent exposure, or disorderly conduct. It also notes that, should a crowd form around a topless woman, the officer should instruct the crowd to disperse and then respond appropriately if it does not. Relative coverage is no longer a factor.
This policy shift comes after several years of litigation and protest. In the 1992 case People v. Ramona Santorelli and Mary Lou Schloss, the New York Court of Appeals ruled in favor of two women who were arrested with five others for exposing their breasts in a Rochester park, holding the law void as discriminatory. The ruling was put to the test in 2005, when Jill Coccaro bared her breasts on Delancey Street in New York, citing the 1992 decision, and was detained for twelve hours. She subsequently successfully sued the city for $29,000.
In 2007, Go Topless, a national organization supporting gender equality in shirtlessness laws, established Go Topless Day. Dozens of women protest – often topless – in thirty cities around the United States, promoting equal rights to be shirtless. Protests usually include chants of “Free your breasts. Free your minds” and a song “Let ‘em Breathe” to the tune of the Beatles’ “Let it Be.”
While some who have witnessed these events have suggested that “[t]his is extreme liberalism and why America’s in decline” or “[i]t’s degrading to women,” others have been supportive. One man even said he would encourage his wife to join them.
Though bare-breasted women might shock the sensibilities of some in the public, it is encouraging to see the police responding positively to gender bias, even on such a seemingly small scale. After all, no one thinks twice about a man shirtless on a summer day. However, the female nipple or chest is still considered “lewd.” By reminding its officers of this, the NYPD is publicly declaring that it will no longer perpetuate unconstitutional gender discrimination, a standard to which all law enforcement should be held and a decision for which it should be applauded.
I have endeavoured to dissipate these religious superstitions from the minds of women, and base their faith on science and reason, where I found for myself at least that peace and comfort I could never find in the Bible and the church… the less they believe, the better for their own happiness and development… .
For fifty years the women of this nation have tried to dam up this deadly stream that poisons all their lives, but thus far they have lacked the insight or courage to follow it back to its source and there strike the blow at the fountain of all tyranny, religious superstition, priestly power, and the canon law."-
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “The Degraded Status of Woman in the Bible,” 1896
Written in 1896. Sadly still relevant in 2012.(via thisoneandonlylife)
A common thing to hear or read about is that the Republican party hates women. You’ve all seen captioned pictures and read articles. You know where I’m coming from. So let’s break it down.
I disagree, they don’t hate women, they hate women who don’t behave in the manner their traditions and expectations dictate.
Why do liberals think that Republicans hate women? Liberals think that Republicans want women in the kitchen. Liberals believe that Republicans want to take away women’s rights and take away their choices. Liberals whine about how conservatives want to treat women differently than men, or unequally.
Boy, I hate when people whine about being oppressed, don’t you? I mean, in 1919 women whined so much we has to let them vote! Then, years later, black people who already whined their way into voting decided that they wanted their right to vote to allow the to actually vote in a practical way, by protecting it! What whiners! Can you even imagine that people in the past have whined so hard that the law actually prevents people from hurling children into coal mines for 16 hours a day and paying them 3 cents an hour? Whiners!
Let’s get one thing straight here—women and men are not the same. We are not equal. Now before you bite my head off and call me a traitor to my gender, hear me out. If women and men were created equal, we’d have been born with a penis.
Right, the penis is the organ that determines how much I get paid, what rights I have under the law and how I ought to be treated by society. That’s why everytime I meet someone new, I drop my pants so they know the appropriate way to act around me.
Or men would be able to give birth. We’re physically different and we are psychologically different.
Oh, I see, sets of physical and psychological attributes (of which there are two: male and female) are the factors that determine my social worth. Sorry, kid, it ain’t that easy. You don’t get to say women are X and men are Y, just because that’s the case chromosonally.
With the exception of animals like lions and seahorses, most animals go by the basic rule that the male goes out and hunts and the female stays with the cubs.
Right, seahorse women go out and hunt while the male’s stay with the seahorse cubs. I’m really impressed by your inclusion of the number “most,” by the way. Did you obtain that data from DarkRoom Stabbing polling agency?
It’s how they go with the flow.
Oh, right, the flow.
And humans did as well from the beginning of humankind.
That’s true and it’s about time we return to our roots! I, for one, can’t wait to return to the lifestyle of knowing a broken ankle is a death sentence, living to 24, eating bugs that line the walls of the cave I’ve taken up residence in and smelling every pile of poop I come across so I can identify whether there be bears nearby!
Now, humans are more intelligent than animals. We can reason and think, and go outside the nature box.
Of course, all other animals are reasonless bio-machines who just eat and die with no ability to reason outside…the…nature…box? (I gotta get me one of those nature boxes.)
So naturally, women wanted to hold their own,
(shifts eyes about)
vote, go out without having to be chaperonned, etc. And that’s perfectly fine. We ALL should have a choice in what we do, as long as it fits what we’re ABLE to do.
OK, so, never do what you’re not able to do. Inspiring stuff. Reach for the stars, kids! Wait, don’t do that, since you’re not actually able to reach stars. Maybe bagging groceries is more your speed, kids.
It’s no lie that women, as a rule, are not as physically strong as men,
Got it, women? That’s the rule. Don’t be stronger than men. Look, you might be upset about it, but I’m not here lying to you. You can’t be stronger, physically, than a man, that’s the rule.
and might not make the best construction workers or linebackers. (I remember as a kid I wanted to be the first female pro football player. Now, not so much. XD I’d get pummeled.)
Hey, I was in an anecdote once! By the way, I’m interested in why you choose to portray feminism as the movement to get women to work construction jobs and join the Broncos. How much upper body strength to engineers need? They can make $1,500 in a week and yet only about 12% of them are women. Is it women’s weak wrists keeping them back? What about audio technicians. Running a sound board and editing on a laptop is a job that can easily be performed by a paraplegic. Not much body strength needed for that job which can bring in like a grand a week. Yet, about 16% of sound engineers are female. Does this involve those seahorse cubs? I don’t get it.
Oh, and as for the women aren’t very strong argument, please tell that to the over 200,000 females who put their lives on the line, push the bounds of human physical strength and intellectual prowess at a significant cost to their lifespan and mental well being fighting your wars for you while you sit there making arguments the Taliban would agree with point by point.
So then we get the feminist movement. Feminists hold the strong belief that all women need to hold down jobs and exert personal strength that way. Housewives are weak. Today’s Democrats and liberals are all for this feminist movement.
Why is that so wrong? Because feminists think that women need to fit into this power-girl box to be worth something. They think that even if all a woman wants is to be a wife and mother, there is something wrong with her and she deserves little respect.
Nope, straw man argument is argument against straw man.
So what do the conservatives believe? I won’t lie and say that there isn’t the oddball extremist out there that thinks that women should spend all day cooking and cleaning and mothering, but most are in favor of ACTUAL CHOICE.
…Except when it comes to health issues, then they need a man, probably one who thinks he has an “in” with a magical deity from another dimension (who is also a man) to tell them what is moral.
Women, in their mind,
Right, cause all women have one mind. Got it.
are respected if they do what they truly want, whether it be staying at home as a housewife, working part-time, working full-time, or even starting their own business. Women don’t need to live up to any standard other than the pursuit of happiness. I am not going to lie—if I get married and can afford to not work, I’d love to be a housewife. I want to keep my house clean and pretty and cook extravagant, romantic meals for my husband and be with my baby. And I’m just as strong and empowered as the woman who started her own law firm.
How have you twisted this from an argument, that you made, about liberals thinking conservatives want to force women into being housewives into an argument against liberals trying to keep women from being housewives? This is the fatal logical flaw of your type: It’s the false dichotomies you set up. Being a housewife isn’t sneered upon, a patriarchal system that demoralizes women from aspiring to accomplish goals that are par-for-the-course for men, like starting a business, or becoming the head chef at a restaurant or a pilot or a detective is sneered upon. And it has nothing to do with upper body strength (which is a very unconvincing argument for why women can’t have certain jobs), it has to do with public acceptance. Women are harassed at and shut out of job opportunities all the time everyday in America in ways that men never are. How often do employees working at an auto manufacturing plant gropes a man’s ass and calls him sweetie before sending him for coffee when he should be working on an assembly line? How many little boys are told that the toy with wheels on it isn’t really for them? How many teenage boys elect an electronics or engineering class in high school only to be gawked at a treated like they don’t belong by the rest of the class?
Another reason that liberals think that Republicans hate women is because most of us are pro-life. They think that we’re taking away a woman’s choice by not wanting her to terminate her pregnancy for her own convenience.
For her own convenience? So, you’ve already judged her reasoning? An individual’s reasoning for obtaining a medical procedure is your business and you’re telling me you’re not trying to limit options? You’re so full of shit you can’t even see past it.
(There will be a more detailed MLOO post about abortion soon.) For the record, this isn’t about taking away a woman’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—it’s about letting the baby have those inalienable rights that he was endowed with the second he was created.
…sigh…Do you recognize that you’re just spouting talking points at random? Where’s your argument? What’s your conclusion? That conservatives are right about everything? Look, kid, if you’re in college (which, I’d be amazed if you were actually able to get that far) you’re going to have to learn how to organize an argument properly. Pick one point, “women are too weak to make money,” “penises make people better,” “God inserts soul at moment of conception,” “Feminism encourages women to practice witch craft, leave her family and become a lesbian,” etc, and then provide evidence explaining why the evidence points to your conclusion and try to anticipate any challenges. You just may realize that there is a chance you’re operating under preconceived notions that aren’t justifiable and were, in fact, indoctrinated into you by Fox News talking heads.