Why should a man who strikes a disobedient woman be subjected to judicial punishment? The justification for his being harsh with such a woman is in the Qur’an itself: “Men are the managers of the affairs of women for that God has preferred in bounty one of them over another, and for that they have expended of their property. Righteous women are therefore obedient, guarding the secret for God’s guarding. And those you fear may be rebellious admonish; banish them to their couches, and beat them.” (Qur’an 4:34)
“New Afghanistan law to silence victims of violence against women,” by Emma Graham-Harrison in The Guardian, February 4 (thanks to Lookmann):
A new Afghan law will allow men to attack their wives, children and sisters without fear of judicial punishment, undoing years of slow progress in tackling violence in a country blighted by so-called “honour” killings, forced marriage and vicious domestic abuse.
The small but significant change to Afghanistan’s criminal prosecution code bans relatives of an accused person from testifying against them. Most violence against women in Afghanistan is within the family, so the law – passed by parliament but awaiting the signature of the president, Hamid Karzai – will effectively silence victims as well as most potential witnesses to their suffering.
“It is a travesty this is happening,” said Manizha Naderi, director of the charity and campaign group Women for Afghan Women. “It will make it impossible to prosecute cases of violence against women … The most vulnerable people won’t get justice now.”
Under the new law, prosecutors could never come to court with cases like that of Sahar Gul, a child bride whose in-laws chained her in a basement and starved, burned and whipped her when she refused to work as a prostitute for them. Women like 31-year-old Sitara, whose nose and lips were sliced off by her husband at the end of last year, could never take the stand against their attackers.
“Honour” killings by fathers and brothers who disapprove of a woman’s behaviour would be almost impossible to punish. Forced marriage and the sale or trading of daughters to end feuds or settle debt would also be largely beyond the control of the law in a country where the prosecution of abuse is already rare.
It is common in western legal systems to excuse people from testimony that might incriminate their spouse. But it is a very narrow exception, with little resemblance to the blanket ban planned in Afghanistan….
The change is in a section of the criminal code titled “Prohibition of Questioning an Individual as a Witness”. Others covered by the ban are children, doctors and defence lawyers for the accused….
As most Afghans live in walled compounds, shared only with their extended families, this covers most witnesses to violence in the home.
The bill has been sent to Karzai, who must decide whether to sign it into force. After failing to block the change in parliament, campaigners plan to throw their weight behind shaming the president into suspending the new law.
“We will ask the president not to sign until the article is changed, we will put a lot of pressure on him,” said Selay Ghaffar, director of the shelter and advocacy group Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan. She said activists hoped to repeat the success of a campaign in 2009 that forced Karzai to soften a family law enshrining marital rape as a husband’s right.
But that was five years ago, and since then Karzai has presided over a strengthening of conservative forces. In the last year alone parliament has blocked a law to curb violence against women and cut the quota for women on provincial councils, while the justice ministry floated a proposal to bring back stoning as a punishment for adultery….
“In the beginning they were a little scared with the new government and media,” Ghaffar said, referring to the period soon after the Taliban’s fall when women’s rights were a focus of international attention. “Now they do whatever they want as they have seen the government is not very democratic or strongly in favour of women’s rights.”…
Countries that spent billions trying to improve justice and human rights are now focused largely on security, and are retreating from Afghan politics….
They didn’t actually spend billions trying to improve justice and human rights. If they had intended to improve justice and human rights, they would never have drafted a constitution for Afghanistan that enshrined Sharia as the highest law of the land. But to have stood against that would have entailed a clear recognition of how Sharia contradicts otherwise universally accepted understandings of human rights, and that would have been “Islamophobic.”
In other words, the Western powers did not work to improve justice and human rights in Afghanistan because they were unwilling to acknowledge the truth about Islamic law.