I’m sure that you’ve already seen this elsewhere, but it’s certainly worth posting again.
Yesterday, 300 women in Afghanistan marched in the streets to protest a new law which affects the Shia minority of the population. It says that a woman cannot leave or work outside of the home without her husband’s permission, that she cannot refuse his requests to “make herself up,” and also that marital rape is a-okay. The women were met with 1,000 male counter-protesters, who hurled verbal abuse at them, threatened violence, and actually enacted violence in the form of throwing stones at the women:
The young women stepped off the bus and moved toward the protest march just beginning on the other side of the street when they were spotted by a mob of men.
“Get out of here, you whores!” the men shouted. “Get out!”
The women scattered as the men moved in.
“We want our rights!” one of the women shouted, turning to face them. “We want equality!”
The women ran to the bus and dived inside as it rumbled away, with the men smashing the taillights and banging on the sides.
But the march continued anyway. About 300 Afghan women, facing an angry throng three times larger than their own, walked the streets of the capital on Wednesday to demand that Parliament repeal a new law that introduces a range of Taliban-like restrictions on women, and permits, among other things, marital rape.
It was an extraordinary scene. Women are mostly illiterate in this impoverished country, and they do not, generally speaking, enjoy anything near the freedom accorded to men. But there they were, most of them young, many in jeans, defying a threatening crowd and calling out slogans heavy with meaning.
With the Afghan police keeping the mob at bay, the women walked two miles to Parliament, where they delivered a petition calling for the law’s repeal.
“Whenever a man wants sex, we cannot refuse,” said Fatima Husseini, 26, one of the marchers. “It means a woman is a kind of property, to be used by the man in any way that he wants.”
Like everyone else, I am astounded at the bravery of these women and their activism.
Afghanistan’s President Karzai seems to be softening his stance and indicating that “the most controversial parts of the law” might be repealed, as the law has not yet been officially published and can therefore be changed. But it seems that the women are demanding a full repeal of the law, period. And it also seems that’s the absolute right stance to take.
President Obama has thus far indicated that he thinks the law is “abhorrent,” but has done nothing to stand with the women who oppose the law or to pressure Karzai to listen to them. You can sign a petition telling him to do just that.
ETA: Commenter Forrester has decided to match the first $1,000 of Feministe donations made to RAWA in solidarity with the women who took place in this march. If you donate online, forward those receipts to cara.kulwicki at gmail dot com so that I can verify with Forrester that they were made!