Family Law and Women's Rights in Iran and Afghanistan

Topics: Afghanistan, Iran, Middle East Pages: 5 (1816 words) Published: September 2, 2010
With Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, signing a law which "legalises" marital rape in Afghanistan, Iranian women have come to the aid of the Afghan women in their struggle for more protection under family law. These countries progression is not only significant to womenʼs and family issues in the area but it is significant to study of Middle Eastern and South Asian studies as a whole. In these countries the mother is seen as the nation, so if the mothers and women are pushing towards the same common goal and working together to achieve victory then theoretically Afghanistan and Iran are working together. So due to the help given to the Afghan women by the Iranian women while fighting against the unequal laws placed on wives they are showing progression in the regions relations with one another illustrating a push towards more cohesion in an area as a whole that historically is not peaceful. This paper will overview family law in Afghanistan and Iran, show the womenʼs struggle in todays society, and illustrate the significance that this has not only for women in these two countries but for the Middle East and South Asia as a whole.

Family law regarding divorce, custody and rights of wives in both Iran and Afghanistan is governed mainly by Shari'a, known as "Islamic Law". Many of the laws set in place regarding the women of these countries are not only binding and unfair but some are even harmful to the women themselves. Back in the early 80s family matters became the central focus of laws on women and they were are highly praised for their roles as mothers and the government justified the Islamic family laws such as polygamy and lack of rights with regard to custody of children by referring to the status of women as mothers in Iran. Still today though they don’t carry rights as mothers along with this praise and role. In both countries women are easily and lawfully controlled by their husbands and in areas of marriage, divorce, and child custody women have little or no rights protecting them making it very difficult for women to obtain freedom from harmful and dangerous marriages. Divorce is easily obtained by men for basically any reason while women seeking divorce have so many stipulations that make it extremely difficult to obtain. Women often in the case of divorce will also lose not only money and property they also often will be deemed dishonorable in society. They most likely will not have custody of their children due to the unfair laws in both countries giving men custody when the children are at a very early age and due to the fact that if the mother remarries the custody of the children is immediately the fathers. This is a huge issue in terms of abuse and many women if they are experiencing abuse would not seek abuse if they had children in fear of losing their children and as to protect them from the abuse they receive. Recently in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai signed a bill requiring women to obey the sexual demands of their husband's and states that a man may expect to have sex with his wife at least "once every four nights" when traveling, unless they are sick. The law also gives men preference when it comes to inheritance rights, even easier access to divorce, and more priority in the court room making women’s rights as wives and mothers even more suppressed. These laws are an example of not only the discrimination faced by women in the Middle East and South Asia but it illustrates how family law and marriage and laws placed on women are in one other way a function of government and society. These laws were not passed in this rushed and unhesitant matter for the pure reason of suppressing women, they were done by Hamid Karzai in an attempt to appease and gain votes from Islamic fundamentalists in the soon to come election in August. Patriarchal forces and political power brokers who undermine women's rights and dignity for the purpose of furthering their political agenda are behind the...

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