This week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed legislation which among other things, allows Afghan men to starve their wives if they refuse to have sex with them. The measure was an amendment to a law which have husbands the right to force themselves on their wives, if they did not consent.
Some NATO countries have threatened to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan as a result of the measure.
Speaking to British newspaper The Independent, women's rights activist Wazhma Frough said that hard line clerics pressured the Justice Ministry to retain the most outrageous parts of the original legislation. She said: "There have been a few little changes, but they are not enough. For example, if the wife doesn't accept her husband's sexual requirements then he can deny her food."
Afghanistan's Muslim law now allows rapists to go free if they offer to marry their victims. The same practice actually exists in Mexico and is known as ‘Rapto.’
The new law has touched-off riots in the streets of Kabul, as hundreds of women protested the law which would be unthinkable in a civilized society. However, groups of men from Kabul’s largest Shia madrassa also took to the streets and attacked the women. The event has been completely ignored by the American press.
Activist Razia Jan, who is currently building a women's center in Bamiyan said: "Violence against women is already endemic. Men pay thousands of dollars for young girls and they are treated like slaves. Women here are already so vulnerable."
Of course, government sanctioned violence against women is nothing new throughout the Muslim world.
Saudi Arabia recently revised their rape laws (of sorts). Now, in order for a woman to prove that she was raped, she must have three men testify as witnesses to the crime. Until recently, a female rape victim was required to bring four male witnesses to court.
Of course, under such conditions, the crime of rape is almost never prosecuted in Saudi Arabia. In fact, it is often the woman who ends up in jail and charged with adultery or indecency charges.
In 2007 the victim of a brutal gang rape was given a sentence of 200 lashes and six years in prison for having been in an unrelated man’s car at the time of the attack. After the case garnered major world media attention she was pardoned by King Abdullah, though he claimed the sentence to be fair.
A few years ago, a book entitled "The Islamic Woman" was published which detailed beating techniques to be imposed on Muslim women--at the hands of their controlling husbands. The book's author is a Muslim Imam named Mohamed Kamal Mostafa, currently living in Spain.
"The Islamic Woman" instructs men to hit women "on their hands and feet, making sure to use a cudgel that is not too thick so as not to leave permanent scar tissue." Mostafa also warns his fellow Muslims to "inflict blows that are not too strong nor too hard, because the aim is to make them suffer psychologically."
Murder is also inflicted upon Muslim women by their husbands, fathers, and brothers. The practice is called "honor killings." A Muslim woman or young girl will often be killed by a male family member, after she is believed to have committed an act which defies Islam.
In 2003, a Jordanian man was sentenced to one year in prison, for the murder of his own sister. The young woman became pregnant as a result of being raped by a neighbor. Her family then decided that she must marry the rapist. Before the forced marriage could take place, word of the pregnancy spread throughout the community. The woman's brother returned from a trip to slurs and jeers, calling him the "brother of a slut."
According to the Jordan Times, the man was so angry with his sister over the fact that she had been raped and impregnated--he slipped into her room at night and strangled her with a telephone cord.
The Jordanian paper published excerpts of the court's rulings. They are as follows: "The victim's actions were an unlawful and dangerous act that brought disgrace and shame to her family. He (the brother) could no longer control himself and became very angry. It does not matter that the defendant killed his sister hours after returning from Aqaba. He was still under the influence of extreme anger, which caused him to lose his ability because of the unlawful act committed by his sister."
*Reporter’s note: It is a travesty beyond imagination that we have sent our young men to fight and die in a country which has established a government that condones rape and a medieval type of oppression against their women. It is also a travesty that American women’s rights groups such as NOW (National Organization for Women) spend their resources lobbying for the continuation of late-term abortions, rather than bringing attention to the plight of their counterparts throughout the Muslim world.
In my opinion, we should pull-out our troops and all forms of support to Muslim countries which condone such brutality upon women. The entire Western world lined-up against the government of South Africa and imposed harsh economic sanctions against that nation, until they ended the practice of Apartheid.