Afghanistan: lawmaker and women’s rights advocate killed by Taliban

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the April 12 killing of Sitara Achakzai, a women’s rights advocate in Afghanistan and a member of Kandahar’s provincial assembly. Achakzai, who had returned to Afghanistan to fight for women’s rights after living in Germany during the Taliban’s rule, was shot outside her home after being approached by gunmen on motorcycles.

The killing comes in the midst of controversy over the Afghan central government’s Shi’ite Personal Status Law, which reportedly requires a woman to seek her husband’s permission before leaving the house and effectively condones rape within a marriage. The text of that law has not been officially published.

Last week, Mohammad Asif Mohseni, a key Shi’ite cleric, defended the status law and characterized Western criticism of it as interference with Afghan democracy. President Hamid Karzai signed the measure into law in March, then called for its review under mounting international pressure. (Jurist, April 12)

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  1. Afghan women march against Shi’ite marriage law
    From AP, April 15:

    Dozens of young women braved crowds of bearded men screaming “dogs!” on Wednesday to protest an Afghan law that lets husbands demand sex from their wives. Some of the men picked up small stones and pelted the women. “Slaves of the Christians!” chanted the 800 or so counter-demonstrators, a mix of men and women. A line of female police officers locked hands to keep the groups apart…

    A host of Afghan intellectuals, politicians and even a number of Cabinet ministers have come out against the law. But those who decry the legislation face quick criticism from conservative Muslim clerics and their followers, as Wednesday’s protests showed.

    “You are a dog! You are not a Shiite woman!” one man shouted to a young woman in a head scarf.

    The woman, who held a banner reading “We don’t want Taliban law,” replied quietly: “This is my land and my people.”