Seeking allies for the upcoming election Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai signed the Shia Family Law which negates the need for sexual consent between married couples, approves child marriage, and restricts a woman’s right to leave the home. While Americans are considering the military challenges in Afghanistan, there are also political and human rights issues that Obama administration also must address.
As the The Independent points out, this law is reminiscent of the hard line Taliban regime. International media criticism of Karzai’s decision has been severe. The Daily Mail ran a headline that asked if Karzai was as bad as the Taiban.
Shinkai Karokhail, a female member of the Afghan national parliament explained why the law was passed now, ‘It’s about votes. Karzai is in a hurry to appease the Shia because the elections are on the way.’ The controversial section in the law is Section 132 which states, “states that women must obey their husband’s sexual demands and that a man can expect to have sex with his wife at least ‘once every four nights’ when traveling, unless they are ill.”
Afghanistan passes a law that takes away the need for sexual consent from a wife, and we hear nothing from the Obama administration. I understand the political realities surrounding Karzai’s fragile regime, and the U.S. worries that any criticism could embolden Karzai’s opposition, but if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration want to be a champion of human rights, they can’t pick and choose where they criticize based on political expediency.
In fact, here is what Hillary Clinton said in her speech at the International Conference on Afghanistan, “The status of Afghanistan’s army, the lives of women and girls, the country’s education and health systems are far better today than they were in 2001. So if all of us represented here work with the government and people of Afghanistan, we will help not only to secure their future, but ours as well.”
I don’t think that the Shia Family Law makes life better for women and girls in Afghanistan. Just like any other administration, President Obama should not get a free pass on human rights issues. In my opinion, Democrats should be held more accountable on human rights issues, because they tend to campaign on them.