Female Delegates Win Clear Definition of Citizen in Afghanistan’s Constitution

Female delegates of Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga won one of their major demands. The final draft of the constitution now states that all citizens of Afghanistan, both men and women, have equal rights under the law. According to IRIN News, a female delegate said, “This is one of the major demands of women and we hope it will not be rejected or changed by others.”

However, the Reconciliation Committee agreed to amend Article 3 of the Constitution to say that legislation cannot contravene “the beliefs and provisions” of Islam, reports the Associated Press. This leaves women’s rights and human rights in many areas vulnerable to extreme interpretations of Islam. Efforts to weaken constitutional language requiring Afghanistan to abide by international treaties and conventions may also be under attack. In addition, it is unclear whether the current draft contains essential rights protections such as protection from forced marriage, early marriage, or trafficking.

According to the New York Times, the debate around the constitution has moved away from topics such as Islam, women’s rights, and human rights and has turned to the struggle between the Pashtuns and the Tajiks. There has been fierce debate over the issues about the accountability of the president, the official languages of Afghanistan, and whether ministers can hold dual nationality, reports BBC News.

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IRIN News 12/30/03; New York Times 12/31/03; BBC News 12/31/03; Associated Press 12/29/

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