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