International dismay as Karzai backs law ravaging women’s rights

Law would legalize rape within marriage, UN says, putting damper on summit hopes and outraging ministers

Doug Saunders – The Globe and Mail – Wed 1 April, 2009

THE HAGUE — An effort by ministers from the United States, Canada and other members of the 42-nation coalition fighting in Afghanistan to put an optimistic face on the war’s progress came close to collapse yesterday when Afghan President Hamid Karzai was publicly accused of supporting a law that dramatically limits the rights of women.

Attended in total by 72 countries and organizations interested in rebuilding the country, The Hague summit was meant to be a “big tent” show of support for U.S. President Barack Obama’s new Afghanistan war plans. But by day’s end the participants had been forced to confront the reality of a government riddled with corruption and committed to legislating sexual inequality.

According to United Nations organizations that have seen it, a law backed by the Karzai government would legalize rape within marriage and would forbid women from going to the doctor or leaving their home without their husband’s protection. . .

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