american footprints - Reality-based commentary on foreign affairs


I'll probably have more to say on Afghanistan later, but for now I just wanted to flag this from an Ahmed Rashid article in the New York Review of Books:

"There are, Jones writes, numerous codes of law—penal, legal, customary, and religious—that women have to conform to in each tribe or ethnic group. The question of women's rights is never raised. If they don't obey orders, or resist being abused, the men in their lives can have them arrested. As in many Muslim countries there is no specific law against rape—an Afghan woman who reports being raped is usually charged with adultery. Despite a new constitution that guarantees women's rights, many judges are barely literate and know only Sharia or Islamic law."

If as the article implies these judges think putting women in prison after being abused, raped, and burned conforms with Islamic law, then they certainlt don't know it very well, which would in any case require a great deal of education. Most of what's described in this article is actually tribal custom. Journalists often cite the need for four witnesses to a rape as an example of shari'a, but in reality that's just because some Pakistanis decided that rape should be treated as a sex crime rather than a violent crime, with the general shari'a policy toward sex crimes (such as fornication) being to discourage people from spreading gossip unless there's truly a public scandal taking place.

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