New Afghan law could approve women’s abuse in family

New Afghan law could approve women’s abuse in family

africanA new Afghanistan legislation could allow abuse of wives, children, and sisters by men in the family without them being later punished by law, as it prohibits the relatives of the accused from testifying against them.

The small but significant change to Afghanistan’s criminal prosecution code bans relatives of an accused person from testifying against them, the Guardian reported Wednesday.

The law “passed by parliament but awaiting the signature of the president, Hamid Karzai” will effectively silence victims as well as most potential witnesses to their suffering.

Describing it as “a travesty”, Manizha Naderi, director of the charity and campaign group Women for Afghan Women, said: “It will make it impossible to prosecute cases of violence against women. The most vulnerable people won’t get justice now.”

Under the new law, prosecutors could never come to court with cases like that of Sahar Gul, a child bride whose in-laws chained her in a basement and starved, burned and whipped her when she refused to work as a prostitute for them, the British daily said.

The bill has been sent to Karzai, who has to decide whether to sign it into force. After failing to block the change in parliament, campaigners plan to throw their weight behind shaming the president into suspending the new law.

“We will ask the president not to sign until the article is changed, we will put a lot of pressure on him,” said Selay Ghaffar, director of the shelter and advocacy group Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan.

She said activists hoped to repeat the success of a campaign in 2009 that forced Karzai to soften a family law enshrining marital rape as a husband’s right.

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