Afghan marital rape law

Afghanistan has just passed a new law *in favour of* marital rape.

“As long as the husband is not traveling, he has the right to have sexual intercourse with his wife every fourth night,” Article 132 of the law says. “Unless the wife is ill or has any kind of illness that intercourse could aggravate, the wife is bound to give a positive response to the sexual desires of her husband.”

What’s the US response so far?

The U.S. is “very concerned” about the law, said State Department spokesman Robert Wood. “We urge President Karzai to review the law’s legal status to correct provisions of the law that limit or restrict women’s rights.”

‘Very concerned’? I really hope a lot more is going on behind the scenes. To urge US action, go here. We sure have done some great liberating over there. (Thanks, Jender-Mom.)

10 thoughts on “Afghan marital rape law

  1. oh my. i think people get confused sometimes and think they’re being good liberals by ‘respecting difference’. (‘we oughtn’t be judgmental about different social practices’ etc.) surely this confusion will be quickly cleared up tho, right? i wonder is this something about which obama’s women’s council will have something to say?

  2. hi elp. i gather there are also pragmatic concerns for the US putting a lot of pressure on Karzai wrt this – apparently, it is increasingly difficult to get other countries to commit troops to Afghanistan – you know, for the sake of those liberal ideals; freedom, equality?? – when the state protected instates such appalling illiberal laws. So here’s hoping that – for some reason or other – this is swiftly repealed…

  3. I did find myself wondering if perhaps the US fears an even more anti-woman govt coming to power if Karzai doesn’t sign this bill. Which is scarily possible, I imagine.

  4. stoat, i have a headcold and can’t for the life of me follow your long hyphenated sentence. (i’ll reread it when i’m well and see just how profoundly a headache effects my reading comprehension.) so, does the US gov’t feel it *mustn’t* put pressure on karzai, as this would look like propping up and make others even more reluctant to get involved? or does it worry that it *must* intervene if it wants to keep international support?

  5. btw here’s an excerpt from the article that jj linked:

    ‘ Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, came under intense western pressure yesterday to scrap a new law that the UN said legalised rape within marriage and severely limited the rights of women.

    At a conference on Afghanistan in The Hague, Scandinavian foreign ministers publicly challenged the Afghan leader to respond to a report on the new law in yesterday’s Guardian, and the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, was reported to have confronted Karzai on the issue in a private meeting.

    At a press conference after the meeting, Clinton made clear US displeasure at the apparent backsliding on women’s rights. “This is an area of absolute concern for the United States. My message is very clear. Women’s rights are a central part of the foreign policy of the Obama administration,” she said. ‘

  6. elp – apologies! the thought was that for pragmatic reasons (amongst others, of course) the US *must* intervene. Because the US can’t very well claim to ask for support protecting liberal values when laws like this are being passed. Though Jender’s thought may well be right…

  7. yes, your point seems right, as does jender’s wonder. here’s another, tho: too much pressure on him might make him look puppetish. it might be destabalising if the afghani gov’t looks like it’ll change its mind because the US tells it to. (maybe this was part of what jender was thinking: that the public wouldn’t trust karzai’s gov’t any more if he looked too bullied by the US, and would then vote in something even worse?)

  8. You mean women can accuse their husbands of rape?
    When did this become the law? I read somewhere 1981.

    Well if it’s been illegal in the US since 1981, then it is a long established (pre Madonna) law and must be adopted all around the world. Afghanistan must heel!

  9. Phil, I understand that a lot of Middle Easterners do find it offensive that the US is so concerned with the treatment of their women while women in the US are under-privileged, brutalized, killed by husbands, lovers, and so on.

    Nonetheless, those of us concerned about women generally are not using the treatment of women at various places to rationalize any different treatment of the countries, their citizens, etc. If women consent to spanking, we’re not damning them. And if women consent to rape…Wait! That’s the whole point. Rape is by definition done absent consent.

    A law that wipes out women’s position as an autonomous subject. Hmmm. Sound good to you?

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