Afghan Chief Justice Attacks Male Candidate for Remarks on Women’s Rights

The Chief Justice of the Afghan Supreme Court has demanded that candidate Latif Pedram be expelled from the presidential race for questioning marital laws. Speaking at a women’s forum, Latif Pedram suggested that the issue of divorce and polygamy be debated, reports the Washington Post. According to Pedram, it is impossible for a husband to treat all four wives equally and that it is unfair that men can divorce their wives at any time, while women must obtain their husband’s consent.

According to the Washington Post, Pedram’s comments created outrage amongst some conservative Islamic scholars who argued that Pedram had spoken against Islamic law. The chief justice of the Supreme Court sent a letter to the elections committee and the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan demanding that Pedram be kicked out of the elections. According to the Washington Post, the letter has no validity and Pedram is still an official presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan Jean Arnault announced that while 41 percent of those registered to vote in Afghanistan are women, there are areas in the south where only 19 percent of women are registered due to high levels of insecurity. After the close of voter registration last month, the United Nations and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission released a report stating that the most basic conditions for a democratic vote in Afghanistan are in danger of not being met. A lack of information and insecurity are making voters vulnerable to intimidation and manipulation. There are reports of women being harassed at polling center and that voters are brandishing multiple voter cards.

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Washington Post 9/8/04; UN Security Council Press Release 8/25/04; Feminist Daily New Wire 9/7/04

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