Target: President Hamid Karzai
Goal: Don’t deny women protection from domestic violence and child marriage
A new law is making its way through Afghanistan’s parliament and if signed by the president, would deny women protection from domestic abuse and forced child marriages. If passed, this law will prevent judicial authorities from questioning relatives of the criminal defendant, silencing witnesses and their testimony of domestic abuse. It will make it difficult for prosecutors to convict abusers, thereby providing the abuser some sort of protection, while leaving women and young girls to suffer. Originally the wording of the law prohibited forced questioning, but voluntary testimonies would be accepted. The law has now been revised to state, “The following people cannot be questioned as witnesses: … Relatives of the accused,” eliminating the use of voluntary testimony in court.
This new law would go against the other groundbreaking law, Elimination of Violence Against Women, which was passed in 2009 as a presidential decree. It provided new penalties against such crimes like rape, child marriage, forced marriage, domestic violence, sale of women and girls, and the giving off of girls to resolve family disputes. Unfortunately there are members in Afghanistan’s parliament who are not in support of women’s rights and have tried to weaken laws that provide protection for women and girls. Some women who hold government positions or are police officials have even been attacked or killed.
This law should be vetoed by the President immediately, as it goes against women’s rights and human rights. Those who wish to give testimony should be allowed to do so in a criminal court; silencing witnesses is also a violation of their rights. Women should be treated with dignity and respect, not as an item to be traded away or beaten bloody.
Dear President Hamid Karzai,
I am writing this letter to express my deep concern with a law that is being passed through the houses of Afghanistan’s parliament. This law would prevent questioning relatives of a criminal defendant, even if the testimony given is voluntary. This law will not only make it difficult for prosecutors to convict abusers, but it will provide them protection. Women and girls will be at the mercy of their abusers without the aid of the law. This is unacceptable and women should be treated with more respect than this.
I understand that there are members in parliament who are not in support of women’s rights. As president I am demanding that you veto this law when it comes to your desk. Women and girls have suffered through plenty in your country and should not have their happiness and lives ride on a few prejudiced members who believe that women don’t deserve rights. Make this right and ensure this bill never becomes a law.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: DVIDSHUB via flickr