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Law Allowing for “Marital Rape” Causes Hundreds to Protest

A new law that was passed by Parliament saying that husbands have the right to demand sex from their wives without the risk of refusal sparked a protest Wednesday that included around 300 women. Sound crazy? For the Shiite women and wives living in Afghanistan, this is the new reality they must face.

According to the New York Times, the law was approved by both houses of Parliament and was signed by President Hamid Karzai. It only applies to the Shiite minority and prevents a woman from resisting her husband’s sexual advances.

Two other provisions of the law state that a woman requires permission from her husband if she wants to work outside the home or go to school and that it is illegal for a woman to “dress up” if it is against her husband’s wishes.

Women’s rights activists scheduled a demonstration that found more than 300 female supporters walking the streets of Kabul in protest of the new “Taliban-like restrictions.” (New York Times)

“Whenever a man wants sex, we cannot refuse,” said Fatima Husseini, 26, a protester. “It means a woman is a kind of property, to be used by the man in any way that he wants.” (New York Times)

Some critics are saying that the law basically allows for the legalization of “marital rape.”

The protesters were met with resistance from counter protesters, many of who shouted support for Islamic law. Some counter protesters threw gravel and stones, while groups of men refused to let some women join the demonstration. (Wall Street Journal)

President Karzai responded to the situation by looking at removing some parts of the law and asked his justice minister to look it over.

Homayun Hamidzada, President Karzai’s spokesman, said in an interview on Wednesday that “we have no doubt that whatever comes out of this process will be consistent with the rights provided for in the Constitution – equality and the protection of women.” (New York Times)

Some Shiite women who support the new law believe that it is only controversial to those who are Westerners and others who are anti-Islam, and that the law is being “misinterpreted.”

“We don’t want foreigners interfering in our lives,” said Mariam Sajadi, 24. “They are the enemy of Afghanistan.” (Wall Street Journal)