ELODIE INTROIA WITH LIZ MURRAY WRITE — President Hamid Karzai holds the destiny of women in his hands. A few days ago, the Afghan parliament passed a law banning women from seeking any sort of legal recourse in the face of domestic abuses. President Karzai is unequivocally under tremendous international pressure to scratch it off.
The conservative Muslims pushing for this new law transferred it to President’s Karzai’s office for final approval. If he signs it, women will no longer be able to protect themselves from beatings at the hands of abusive husbands, and little girls that are forcibly married off by their fathers will lack agency.
While most of the world moves towards gender equality, masculinist Afghans are hard at work to keep women in between four walls. Despite all his efforts to promote women’s rights, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon remains “deeply disturbed” by the “pervasive climate of impunity in Afghanistan for abuses of women and girls.”
The non-profit organization Women for Afghan Women (WAW) calls on President Karzai not to sign this bill, “which eviscerates the Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women” that he ratified back in 2009. Although this current law to protect women against domestic abuses remains to be widely applied, it was reported that 109 women benefited from this legislation last year alone. If Afghanistan is serious about it’s intentions to become a democracy, the Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women must continue and those that contradict it must be met with disapproval.
Karzai is under huge scrutiny for his lack of transparency and dismissal of human rights. Catherine Traywick of Foreign Policy went as far as putting Afghanistan on the same page as North Korea in terms of corruption. This should only alarm President Karzai and push him to change the nation’s reputation.
While we wait for him to scratch the misogynistic bill, his agenda seems to be consumed with secretly meeting Taliban leaders to reach a potential peace agreement. Sadly as Huma Safi, an activist with Equality for peace and Democracy, said, “Women are not on the agenda now.”
President Kennedy once said “the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” Women’s rights in Afghanistan are in peril, and it is all of our responsibility to push for change.