On “Afghanistan’s Rape Law” as a focus

I’ve written posts focussing on Afghanistan’s marital rape law, as have others here. (See elp’s below.) It’s an appropriate object of outrage. HOWEVER it’s important to note that this actually seems to be the same law that forbids women from leaving the house without male permission. (JJ mentioned this bit here.) Both of these are grotesque infringements on women’s freedom, yet the rape law is getting far more coverage. Non-western feminists have often criticised Western feminists for so strongly prioritising sexual matters, and I wonder if this is an instance of that. Though it may also be that the marital rape law has more resonance for Westerners– we’re not so far historically from allowing marital rape (1992, in the UK), but we’re very far from forbidding women to leave the house. (It’s worth noting that it’s not at all surprising for bloggers to focus on the rape law, since it’s getting all the press. What’s more interesting is the fact that this is getting all the press– and that even news articles which mention the other bits of the law still have “rape law” as their headline.)

10 thoughts on “On “Afghanistan’s Rape Law” as a focus

  1. Interestingly, the NY Times article that I linked to in the earlier post did not stress the rape part at all; I think in fact I mistakenly suggested it was a different law.

    The Times also says that this law applies only to Shiite citizens, which are about 10% of the population.

  2. Interesting point. My somewhat cynical take on it is that the rape bit got picked up in the news a bit more than the other bits of the law because rape involves sex, and that makes for more juicy news reports. Feminists – such as myself – then read about the rape bit and reported on that aspect of the law.

  3. You know, Monkey, you’re absolutely right. In fact, I had the bits and pieces in the post to arrive at that conclusion but just didn’t get there. This isn’t an instance of *feminists* prioritising sexual matters so much as the press doing that, and then those are the bits that feminists (like everyone else) hear the most about.

  4. btw it’s just been brought to my attention (by an excellent facebook friend) that there’s also a clause allowing child marriage in this law: “Article 27 endorses child marriage with girls legally able to marry once they begin to menstruate.” did you all know this? i hadn’t heard it.

  5. Yemen is so much more progressive… (the stuff dripping off your screen might just be sarcasm). This is of course old news and maybe this blog covered it (I hadn’t find it then yet), but they are now at least granting divorce in some cases like Nojud‘s

  6. hippocampa: ew ew ew! an 8 year old married off to a 28 year old. and it was consummated! EW. if ever we needed proof that ethical relativism is just *wrong*.

  7. my thoughts exactly, lp. And this is just one case. Want more? there are plenty. I just think it is bad for the soul to dig into this stuff. I just happen to come across it with my research quite a bit, sadly, probaly because I have a special interest in the middle east, too.
    I first read about this incident on the English version of the Yemen Times, or something, so I mailed to the editor, how can I help this girl with her education, where do I send money? I never got a reply.
    Not much later, a Saudi guy stepped in with a big sack of money. He paid off the husband (with something like a beeping US$ 10,000) setting her free. It disgusted me to no end, he endorsed his behaviour and made it generally known that there is money to be had if you just screw a kid.
    And of course, he got all the good press.

  8. ok, rephrasing:
    The Saudi guy endorsed the behaviour of the husband, and the Saudi guy got all the good press.

  9. Of course, Mary, when she conceived of Jesus, was 13. She never had menstruated before and was therefore, in the hebrew terms of the time, a virgin (i.e. a girl not having had menarche).
    That freaks me out too, to be honest, but man, that was 2000 years ago.

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