In a massive blow for women's rights, the new Shia Family Law negates the need for sexual consent between married couples, tacitly approves child marriage and restricts a woman's right to leave the home, according to UN papers seen by The Independent.
"It is one of the worst bills passed by the parliament this century," fumed Shinkai Karokhail, a woman MP who campaigned against the legislation. "It is totally against women's rights. This law makes women more vulnerable."
The law regulates personal matters like marriage, divorce, inheritance and sexual relations among Afghanistan's minority Shia community. "It's about votes," Ms Karokhail added. "Karzai is in a hurry to appease the Shia because the elections are on the way."
The provisions are reminiscent of the hardline Taliban regime, which banned women from leaving their homes without a male relative. But in a sign of Afghanistan's faltering steps towards gender equality, politicians who opposed it have been threatened.
Most interestingly, the article says that Karzai's move wasn't a cave to the Sunni Pashtuns, who are largely lined up with the Taliban, but rather to the Hazaras and other Shia power brokers. You know, the guys who are on our side in Afghanistan.
This should probably be the final death knell to those who wanted a liberal democracy in Afghanistan. Fortunately, most of what Obama's plans for Afghanistan have focused on up to this point have been securing geopolitical stability and ending safe havens for extremist groups. A futile bid to improve women's rights by strong-arming the weak civilian government we're propping up doesn't seem to be in the cards, for now. Given how easily this law was rushed through, that's probably realistic, and for the best.
Though not for Afghanistan's women, of course.
(Sidenote for Huffpost: correct me if I'm wrong, but, um, if you strike a blow FOR something, it's usually on behalf of that thing. It's a blow TO or AGAINST women's rights that happened here... unless your view of women's rights is very very different from mine.)