A new bill just passed through both houses of Parliament in Afghanistan that forbids all family members of accused criminals from testifying against them. President Hamid Karzai has yet to sign the bill, but it will automatically go into effect in 10 days if he does not veto it.
The proposed law would allow men to abuse their wives, children, and sisters without threat of judicial repercussion. It would quash any legal consequences for cases of honor killings, child marriage, and domestic violence—in a country where 87 percent of women have experienced some form of abuse. In family-centric Afghanistan, there would be few unrelated witnesses in such cases.
After 12 years of advancement, the past nine months have seen a series of setbacks for women’s rights. In July, parliament lowered its quota for female lawmakers on provincial councils from 25 percent to 20 percent. Lawmakers also blocked an effort to endorse the 2009 anti-violence law in May, and in November, a draft of a law that would reinstate public execution by stoning was scrapped after it leaked to the media. A current bill in front of parliament awaiting a vote would allow men more authority over children, including the right to marry an adopted female child.
The article notes that the only sign of American protest to this bill has come from the US Embassy in Kahbul. It has also been criticized by the UN’s policy chief. More international leaders need to speak out on this bill to show President Karzai that violence against women will not be tolerated by the international community.