The controversial Shia family law, with some revisions, that restricts the rights of Shia women in Afghanistan was published in the country’s official Gazette on July 27th, making the law’s provisions official. The law applies only to Afghanistan’s 10-20 percent Shia minority. President Hamid Karzai published the law as he courts fundamentalist Shia mullahs in advance of the presidential elections scheduled for next week.
According to Human Rights Watch, the final version of the law allows men to withhold food and basic provisions from their wives if they refuse sexual demands, grants guardianship only to fathers and grandfathers, and requires men’s permission for their wives to work. There is also a provision that allows rapists to pay “blood money” to victims in order to evade prosecution.
The proposed law sparked international outrage by feminists and leaders worldwide when it was first signed by President Hamid Karzai in March, prompting him to suspend its enforcement while the Justice Ministry conducted a three-month review. The law that was published is modified modestly but still contains objectionable provisions limiting the rights of Shia women. The law can be overturned by Afghanistan’s parliament or the Afghan constitutional court can throw out provisions that violate the country’s constitution or international treaties. The Feminist Majority Foundation will support efforts by women in Afghanistan to overturn the law.