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Medea Benjamin Reports Back From Afghanistan on Women's Protest Against Karzai's Personal Status Law

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Uploaded on Oct 10, 2009

On July 27, 2009, the Shia Personal Status Law went into effect. The law regulates the personal affairs of Shia Muslims - who make up between 10 and 20 percent of the population - including divorce, separation, inheritance, and the minimum age for marriage. The law strips away women's rights that are enshrined in Afghanistan's constitution. The law gives a husband the right to withdraw basic maintenance from his wife, including food, if she refuses to obey his sexual demands. It grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers. It requires women to get permission from their husbands to work. It also effectively allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying "blood money" to a girl who was injured when he raped her. Signed by President Karzai, the law was designed in secret by a powerful and hard-line Shia leader, Ayatollah Asif Mohseni, and supported by conservative Shia leaders in parliament. In a rare move, Afghan women took to the streets in April to protest, braving threats and violence. Medea Benjamin describes meeting these women last week in Afghanistan.

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