It’s the law: For Afghanistan’s “women”, the word NO is NEVER an option.

Without much of a fuss made by the media, if even reported at all, last month Afghanistan’s new Shiite Personal Status Law was put into effect. The law grants Shiite men the legal right to starve their wives if their sexual demands are not met. These sexual demands are not defined or limited by the law. The law also requires Shiite women to obtain permission from their husbands to even leave their home. Parental custody is solely the father’s or, in his absence, the paternal grandfather. Incredibly, the law also allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying “blood money” to a girl who was injured when he raped her. That payment, of course, is offered to the father, paternal grandfather or the brothers of the raped girl.

It is worth noting that a Shiite “woman” is any girl old enough for marriage. Therefor if you are a 9 year old girl (a 3rd or 4th grader in the US) and live in Afghanistan this law, including the rape provision, applies to you. Photo credit: Ahmad Masood/Reuters[Photo credit: Ahmad Masood/Reuters]

A great deal of progress in respect to the rights of women in Afghanistan was widely reported after the US lead invasion that resulted in response to the Taliban’s attacks on September 11, 2001. The sacrifices made, and continued to be made, by our service men/women are difficult for anyone to even see, let alone physically endure. However, the media softens this horror for many by filling their broadcasts with heart warming images of little girls being allowed to attend school for the first time.

Today you will not find one little girl in any of the dozens of schools built by our forces and contractors. The monthly combat deaths and injuries resulting from the expanding war are the highest since the start, yet the scant media coverage and reporting is no comparison to the media coverage even 6 months ago … and for the little girls all across Afghanistan, the word NO is (again) NEVER an option.

-Surface Earth columnist: CB

19 thoughts on “It’s the law: For Afghanistan’s “women”, the word NO is NEVER an option.

  1. Thank-you for bringing awareness to the life of these women/girls. It is amazing how we can all be the same, yet be so different in how we view and treat each other. Sad, very sad. Even sadder that this goes on without the media creating the awareness that it should.

  2. Thank-you for bringing awareness to the life of these women/girls. It is amazing how we can all be the same, yet be so different in how we view and treat each other. Sad, very sad. Even sadder that this goes on without the media creating the awareness that it should.
    Oops…forgot to say great post! Looking forward to your next one.

  3. Here’s the irony:
    Our last three Presidents fathered only girls (5). So at the end of Pres. Obama’s first term, the White House will have been home for only little girls for 20 years. You would think we would choose a different place to send our men AND women into battle.

  4. I was hired by an engineering firm one time, contracted to build a school in Saudi Arabia. My job was to design the lighting and lighting circuits for both indoor and outdoor lighting.

    I resigned after a week and a half. Just after I found out as a single female, I would not be allowed inside the country to work on the project the same as all the other engineers who were pouring their skills into it.

    What can we do? Well…

    Exactly what we are doing. We put far too much importance and value on media attention. And the internet is by far, a more powerful tool. News comes from online to the media these days.

    I ask the question “What do we expect with more media attention? Do we expect our judgments rejecting this kind of attitude to have any effects? If so, why, since the only effect it has ever had before, was to summon up more of a force entrenched in opposition?”

    The more we judge, the worse they get. The more forceful we become, the more forceful they do, too.

    Maybe there is another, far more effective way?

    Just recently there was a comment on one of my posts, from one of us who has never known much, if any, freedom of self expression. Where even in speaking up and saying anything, is claiming to be some kind of authority, so don’t do it.

    I shared that communication is a 2-way street. I express myself; you express yourself. I share me; you share you. And in this way, we come to understand each other.

    Our blogs and what we share of ourselves, our points of view, our beliefs, our attitudes, are opening up worlds and doors to possibilities never before imagined. In simply the realm of ideas. We’re planting seeds of self respect.

    My version of saying “no” included the images of a shot gun and rock salt. And I’m going to keep saying it, too.

  5. Media attention is like a frontal assault. Person to person internet is like coming up from behind.

    Being invited in the back door is a lot easier then banging the front door down.


  6. Sue:

    I find “judgment” is key.

    Perhaps, the mere recognition or thought in regard to the importance of ‘judgment’ is just as objectionable as the word itself.

    Stepping back to the piece on words, could judgment exist if we did not agree to articulate the thoughts and feelings into concrete actions? I suppose so, that means peeling back more layers, which is fine, it’s evolution in reverse.

    My point is, which one of us that points a finger and dictates has not done so from a part of our own skeletal, shadow selves?

    When we shriek so loud, is it not sometimes, an action against ourselves, trying to wipe the mirror?

    Pontification, no more weighty than the magic dragon puffing the air which doesn’t produce flame, except in our case, we humans need to wake up and realize the damage done by pre-conceived thoughts and words.

    Whew…talk about pontification, I better go erase my universal blackboard!

  7. Tobeme:

    I pause and reflect upon your comment. Please do not think that means that your comments have not previously caused reflection. Rather, I see you have taken the complex and made it simple: “It is amazing how we can all be the same, yet be so different in how we view and treat each other.”

    My wonder is, when I was a child, and read of “history”, i thought I did so to learn from the past. Admittedly, I also thought my “time”, my “generation”, was more knowledgeable and could not repeat the same human infractions.

    I have been proved wrong. Conceded.

    However, are we only to be afforded a whisper, a gasp of a child yet not formed, the pure chance before the transformation begins? Is this what each generation, and consequently, each century, receives? A whisper, a murmur between pages and thoughts and words, a chance for true change?

    We must be mad as a human race to believe ourselves divided. God to the extent we believe, is up there, looking at the top of the pyramid as we squint at the sides no other can see.


  8. I wonder, after reading this, of the ratio of men to women there or the ratio of girls to boys or even the ratio of mothers and sons, and fathers and daughters. I cannot not believe that amoung all of them, there are not many who feel in their hearts that something is not right in this treatment, and it is in this I feel that change will come.

  9. The population of Afghanistan is over 33 million (or about the size of California). Life expectancy of the average female today is under 45 (10th worse in the world) and she will have 6 or more children (the 4th highest in the world). Less than half of the population are female, and 7.3 million of them (or 2X the entire population of Los Angeles) are girls 14 years and younger.

    After years, billions of dollars and thousands of American casualties, our government (and the previous one) is incapable or unwilling to impress upon the government of Afghanistan the moral imperative that is to code into law the most basic of human rights for half of their population.

  10. OMG that is so disgusting! Keeping our men and women there makes as much sense as sending African American men and woman to protect a KKK rally from Nazi demonstrators. We made our point for 9/11. It’s time to move on.

  11. I found myself looking up the religion(beliefs)of the people of Afghanistan which is Islam, 99 percent counted as Muslims. 80% are Sunni 20% are Shi’a. I gathered that it is the Shi’a (Shiite)that are peaceful, and it is the Taliban, Sunni Islamists, that are known for their mis-treatment of women.

    Is the government of Afghanistan run by the Taliban? was it the Taliban government that made this Shiite personal status law to get more of the Shiite (men I guess in this case) to join them?

  12. and too I question are these percentages right? do many there just say they follow the Taliban to get jobs, to keep their familys safe, but do not really pratice this way in privacy.

  13. Afghanistan is no longer run by the Taliban, this our forces achieved in a few days. The Taliban, who were mostly foreign Arabs, introduced and later coded into Afghan law their rigid interpretation of sharia (Islamic law). It’s this interpretation of sharia that is the foundation of this new Afghan law.

    Clerics of the Wahhabi Islamic sect in Saudi Arabia, in return for endorsing the royal family’s authority when the Kingdom was founded in 1932, were granted control over all state religious and educational institutions and allowed to enforce and promote their their rigid version of Islamic law.

    To this day, Saudi Arabia remains the primary financial supporter of Wahhabi teachings in the world. It is Wahhabi sharia, founded and financed by Saudi Arabia (ironically the most pro-western Arab state in the middle east, whose survival is guaranteed by US treaties), that has sealed the fate of millions of Afghan girls.

    Irony bites.

  14. ~a heavy sigh from me as well~ with a wish to see a game of chess played where the pawns are able to stand alone.

  15. I am old enough (heavy sigh from me too) to remember Vietnam. The reasons given by some to stay and by others to leave are the same today as it was 40 years ago! It is time to leave this place too.

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