Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he has
ordered a review of a new law that critics say could legalize marital rape and
restrict women's rights.
President Karzai said the
Justice Ministry will study the law "very carefully." He vowed that if there is
anything of concern, it will be sent back to parliament. The Afghan leader said
concerns may have arisen because of mistranslation or
U.S. President Barack Obama
on Saturday was among several world leaders who sharply criticized the law,
which is intended to regulate family life within Afghanistan's Shi'ite
At a news conference in
France, Mr. Obama called the law "abhorrent" and said his administration's views
had been communicated to the Karzai government.
The United Nations Human Rights chief, Navi
Pillay, said the legislation bars women from refusing sex with their husbands
unless they are sick, and it forbids them from leaving their homes without their
Some Afghan lawmakers said
the final version of the law, which has yet to be published, includes amendments
allowing women to leave the home and refuse sex with their husband.
Critics said Mr. Karzai's government quickly approved the law
to gain the support of leaders of the Shi'ite religious community, and the
Hazara ethnic minority. The groups could be a swing vote in the presidential
elections in August.
constitution calls for equal rights for men and women, it also allows the
Shi'ite community, which makes up about 20 percent of the population, to have a
separate family law based on religious tradition.
Britain, Canada and France have also expressed concern about
the law. And Italian officials said Saturday that Italy could bring home its
female NATO soldiers in Afghanistan in protest of the law.
information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and