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)