This may be an “amended” version of the law, but coerced sex is non-consensual sex. Apologists for Islam in the West often extol the religion’s supposed emphasis on “family values,” or at least, the outward appearance of stability of the family. But if family life is the basis for how a society functions, it is no surprise that, with family values like this, Afghan society and others across the Islamic world are suffused with tyranny and corruption.
An Afghan bill allowing a husband to starve his wife if she refuses to have sex has been published in the official gazette and become law.
The original bill caused outrage earlier this year, forcing Afghan President Hamid Karzai to withdraw it.
But critics say the amended version of the law remains highly repressive.
They accuse Mr Karzai of selling out Afghan women for the sake of conservative Shia support at next week’s presidential election.
The law governs family life for Afghanistan’s Shia minority.
The original version obliged Shia women to have sex with their husbands every four days at a minimum, and it effectively condoned rape by removing the need for consent to sex within marriage.
Western leaders and Afghan women’s groups were united in condemning an apparent reversal of key freedoms won by women after the fall of the Taliban.
Now an amended version of the same bill has passed quietly into law with the apparent approval of President Karzai.
Just ahead of this Thursday’s Afghan presidential election, human rights groups suggest the timing is no accident.
“There was a review process – Karzai came under huge pressure from all over the world to amend this law, but many of the most oppressive laws remain,” Rachel Reid, the Human Rights Watch representative in Kabul, told the BBC.
“What matters more to Karzai is the support of fundamentalists and hardliners here in Afghanistan whose support he thinks he needs in the elections.”
Women’s groups say its new wording still violates the principle of equality that is enshrined in their constitution.
It allows a man to withhold food from his wife if she refuses his sexual demands; a woman must get her husband’s permission to work; and fathers and grandfathers are given exclusive custody of children.