In a country where ‘honour’ killings and forced marriages are rife there was a belief that the Western occupation would help bring in laws which would protect women and girls, and give them greater rights then under the brutal Taliban regime.
But a new law is being passed in the country which will allow men to attack their wives, children and sisters without any fear of criminal prosecution, bringing into sharp focus the plight that women in the country are still facing.
The change to the criminal prosecution code bans the relatives of an accused person from testifying against them. With the majority of family violence against women this change effectively silences the victims as well as any potential witnesses.
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.
The law having been approved by both houses of Parliament in Afghanistan, is now just awaiting the signature of the President, Hamid Karzai.
Campaigners are now putting all their efforts into trying to shame the President into suspending the new law, a tactic which worked successfully five years earlier when Karzai was forced to soften a family law which enshrined marital rape as a husband’s right.
With most foreign troops leaving before the end of this year and relationships between Western Governments and Afghanistan being frosty, it seems that Taliban or not, the women of Afghanistan will never see the rights that Islam gives them.