Law Protecting Afghanistan Women Blocked By Conservatives
By KAY JOHNSON 05/18/13 08:03 AM ET EDT
KABUL, Afghanistan — Conservative religious lawmakers in Afghanistan blocked a law on Saturday that aims to protect women’s freedoms, with some arguing that parts of it violate Islamic principles or encourage women to have sex outside of marriage.
The failure highlights how tenuous women’s rights remain a dozen years after the ouster of the hard-line Taliban regime, whose strict interpretation of Islam kept Afghan women virtual prisoners in their homes.
Khalil Ahmad Shaheedzada, a conservative lawmaker for Herat province, said the legislation was withdrawn shortly after being introduced in parliament because of fierce opposition from religious parties who said parts of the law are un-Islamic.
“Whatever is against Islamic law, we don’t even need to speak about it,” Shaheedzada said.
The Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women has actually been in effect since 2009 by presidential decree. It is being brought before parliament now because lawmaker Fawzia Kofi, a women’s rights activist, wants to cement it with a parliamentary vote to prevent its reversal by any future president who might be tempted to repeal it to satisfy hard-line religious parties.
Among the law’s provisions are criminalizing child marriage and banning “baad,” the traditional practice of selling and buying women to settle disputes. It also criminalizes domestic violence and specifies that rape victims should not face criminal charges for fornication or adultery.
“We want to change this decree as a law and get the vote of parliamentarian for this law,” said Kofi, who is herself running for president in next year’s elections. “Unfortunately, there were some conservative elements who are opposing this law. What I am disappointed at is because there were also women who were opposing this law.”
Afghanistan’s parliament has more than 60 female lawmakers, mostly due to constitutional provisions reserving certain seats for women.
The child marriage ban and the idea of protecting female rape victims from prosecution were particularly heated subjects in Saturday’s parliamentary debate, said Nasirullah Sadiqizada Neli, a conservative lawmaker from Daykundi province.
Neli suggested that removing the custom – common in Afghanistan – of prosecuting raped women for adultery would lead to social chaos, with women freely engaging in extramarital sex safe in the knowledge they could claim rape if caught.
Lawmaker Shaheedzada also claimed that the law might encourage promiscuity among girls and women, saying it reflected Western values not applicable in Afghanistan.
“Even now in Afghanistan, women are running from their husbands. Girls are running from home,” Shaheedzada said. “Such laws give them these ideas.”
Freedoms for women are one of the most visible – and symbolic – changes in Afghanistan since 2001 U.S.-led campaign that toppled the Taliban regime. Aside from their support for al-Qaida leaders, the Taliban are probably most notorious for their harsh treatment of women under their severe interpretation of Islamic law.
For five years, the regime banned women from working and going to school, or even leaving home without a male relative. In public, all women were forced wear a head-to-toe burqa veil, which covers even the face with a mesh panel. Violators were publicly flogged or executed. Freeing women from such draconian laws lent a moral air to the Afghan war.
Since then, women’s freedoms have improved vastly, but Afghanistan remains a deeply conservative culture, especially in rural areas.
Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez contributed in Kabul.
The groom-to-be was able to rope the entire village into participating in his proposal to his girlfriend. He knocks her socks off – no matter what the highs and lows of the marriage to come, she will never forget this proposal:
You’ve seen photos of Baby in the food dish, and Baby by the garage door. I opened the door into summer for the Qatari Cat, just the door, and propped the screen door tightly shut so QC could watch the birds and squirrels from the safety of the house.
In Qatar, when he was young and strong, he actually knocked a screen off and escaped. When we replaced the screen, he scratched a long rent in the screening and escaped again. He had a tree he would run for, and once on the wall – he was king of the roost. Only cheese or sardines would get him back again, and it could take hours just to find him before we could tempt and capture him.
Now, he is more content to be an indoor cat. At least, content most of the time. There are times he leaves a message telling us he still yearns to chase a squirrel or two . . .
Sorry! I intended to keep writing, but as it sometimes can, life just got away from me. I took a quick trip to Seattle to see my Mom on Mother’s Day, stayed with my best friend from college, ummm . . . when I count the number of years we have been friends, I am shocked!
Flying out of Pensacola, we flew over Bayou Texar:
I had a great seat, but the lady next to me sounded like she had terminal pneumonia, so I kept my face toward the window. Everything went smoothly, arrived a little early. Two hassles: I had decided for just a short trip I would use a shoulder bag/suitcase, and even though it was light, it gets heavy lugging it from gate to gate. On the good news side, it sure is a lot easier to travel with just cabin baggage, easy on – easy off.
Second, I just hate it that Seattle has relocated all the rental cars to an off-site location. The buses only stop at one end of the terminal or the other so again, there is a lot of lugging, whether it is wheeled or shoulder. You have no control over when the bus will come or when it will leave. It used to be so easy, just dropping the car off and walking directly into the terminal; now I have to calculate extra time for unknowns in the rental return process, oh aarrgh.
Traffic to north Seattle was horrible, even on a Saturday, it was like a normal work day when all the workers are streaming out of the city. On work days, there are windows when traffic is less, but a Saturday! Aarrgh!
It was not raining, or not much. That was a really good thing. Temperatures were lower than Pensacola. That was a good thing. We had a great Mother’s Day brunch, with my sisters and their hubbies, and Mom and I did some shopping. The next day, more errands and catching up on banking and bureaucracies. Those were all good things.
My good friend and I had time to catch up and – as we are wont to do – analyze and strategize. We spent a good amount of time laughing at ourselves and our dilemmas. We laughed at the problems of aging. We laughed at who we thought we would be (who ever thinks they will get old??) and who we have become. Here is what sunrise over Lake Washington looks like from my friend’s house:
Flight home uneventful; arrived in Atlanta a few minutes early and I was out the door in a flash, running running running down one concourse and up the other to see if I could get on the earlier flight to Pensacola which was leaving in MINUTES! “No, no, not possible” the gate clerk said without even looking up; she was already working on two other women, I am guessing flight attendants trying to get back home. I waited a minute, bushed from the long run and lugging the shoulder luggage, then said “I think I will just go find a barbecue” and the gate attendant said “Wait!” and I thought she was going to tell me where to find the best barbecue, because I had like three hours, but no . . . she was printing me out a ticket! I got the last seat, back, back, way back in between two great big United States Marines, but it was a fun 45 minutes and I was home three hours earlier. All that is really good!
Even though it is not Seattle to Kuwait, I still like to shower after a long flight, I just feel germy! AdventureMan made me a beautiful salad with sauteed Portobello mushrooms on top, oh yummmmm and we delighted to be together again. Woooo HOOOOO, home again Sorry to be out of the loop, but when you are one day out, one day back with two days in between, time just swooshes by.
Shocking news for everyone with grounds and gardens – we’ve all been using this, not knowing its long term impact on our environment – and on us.
Roundup, An Herbicide, Could Be Linked To Parkinson’s, Cancer And Other Health Issues, Study Shows
April 25 (Reuters) – Heavy use of the world’s most popular herbicide, Roundup, could be linked to a range of health problems and diseases, including Parkinson’s, infertility and cancers, according to a new study.
The peer-reviewed report, published last week in the scientific journal Entropy, said evidence indicates that residues of “glyphosate,” the chief ingredient in Roundup weed killer, which is sprayed over millions of acres of crops, has been found in food.
Those residues enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease, according to the report, authored by Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc. Samsel is a former private environmental government contractor as well as a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body,” the study says.
We “have hit upon something very important that needs to be taken seriously and further investigated,” Seneff said.
Environmentalists, consumer groups and plant scientists from several countries have warned that heavy use of glyphosate is causing problems for plants, people and animals.
The EPA is conducting a standard registration review of glyphosate and has set a deadline of 2015 for determining if glyphosate use should be limited. The study is among many comments submitted to the agency.
Monsanto is the developer of both Roundup herbicide and a suite of crops that are genetically altered to withstand being sprayed with the Roundup weed killer.
These biotech crops, including corn, soybeans, canola and sugarbeets, are planted on millions of acres in the United States annually. Farmers like them because they can spray Roundup weed killer directly on the crops to kill weeds in the fields without harming the crops.
Roundup is also popularly used on lawns, gardens and golf courses.
Monsanto and other leading industry experts have said for years that glyphosate is proven safe, and has a less damaging impact on the environment than other commonly used chemicals.
Jerry Steiner, Monsanto’s executive vice president of sustainability, reiterated that in a recent interview when questioned about the study.
“We are very confident in the long track record that glyphosate has. It has been very, very extensively studied,” he said.
Of the more than two dozen top herbicides on the market, glyphosate is the most popular. In 2007, as much as 185 million pounds of glyphosate was used by U.S. farmers, double the amount used six years ago, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data.