‘Roots’ by Alex Haley is about black slavery in America. The author traces his roots right back to a village on The Coast of the Gambia, West Africa. The book “… details slave family life—birth, courtship, marriage, death and the ever-present fear of being sold off and having to leave your kin…” –Time
The white Masters and Slave Dealers had learnt very fast that once a slave woman had a child (who they owned), she was easy to control. The children were sold for profit*, but the women had more children, so the easy control continued.
Recently, President Hamid Karzai has made an unthinkable deal… in return for the support of fundamentalists in the August 20 election. (Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch).
Afghanistan has enacted a new legislation empowering men (even further).
It grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers.
So the mothers give birth but have no rights on their children**. Do the children have any say in this?
Who does such a law empower?
* * *
The slaves needed their ‘owners’ permission to go anywhere. Travel documents and Passes were required to step out of their homes so they could not ‘escape’ (they always dreamt of escape).
The initial version of the law included articles that imposed drastic restrictions on Shia women, including a requirement to ask permission to leave the house except on urgent business,
(In Saudi Arabia officials continue to require women to obtain permission from male guardians to conduct their most basic affairs, like traveling or receiving medical care)
* * *
Slaves who failed to comply were sent for flogging (for disobedience, insolence, answering back or bigger crimes). In ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ a young slave girl pleads that even more than the physical pain she hated the looks on the faces of the men who flogged the slave girls.
This is something women in Afghanistan do not have to worry about anymore (though they still have to in some other places), but it seems the rest of the conditions are not much different. Such barbaric laws were supposed to have been relegated to the past with the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, yet Karzai has revived them and given them his official stamp of approval.
“The law gives a husband the right to withdraw basic maintenance from his wife, including food, if she refuses to obey his sexual demands.”
I am very curious to know how any society benefits from a law like this. What kind of men would want these laws?
The subtle users of such laws are a larger number; they just become surer about their ‘rights’. Nimmy’s blogged about the claim that… “because women will be ‘out of service’ during 7-10 or even 15 days during a month and that is a very good reason for men to get another wife so that he needn’t go to a prostitute”
What else do they marry for?
But why do women marry? Women are supposed to need companionship, respect, children, emotional and financial support, romance, sex, protection and a lot more time from their spouses, so I would have thought its women, not men who need multiple spouses.
But knowing these laws I wonder if women are better off unmarried. Two things that seldom make news are any talk of a well drafted nikahnama, and a girl’s right to say no to a marriage.
Like did 12 year old Ameena say yes to marry this man?
A few years ago, an airhostess rescued a 12 year old little girl Ameena, who was crying whilst boarding the plane in Hyderabad in India, accompanied by an elderly Arab sheikh husband. The news was all over the papers, and I remember, when he was asked how he could even dream of marrying a girl young enough to be his granddaughter, he had arrogantly responded with a claim that he could marry her because he could still get her pregnant.
That was all that marriage meant to him. And should mean to her… ? But who cares what marriage means to her.
It seems his idea of marriage was not much different from the hardline Shia cleric Ayatollah Mohseni, who designed this law ‘in secret’ and is ‘supported by conservative Shia leaders in parliament’, the ‘law directly contravenes rights provided under the Afghan constitution, which bans any kind of discrimination and distinction between citizens of Afghanistan’.
The law “also effectively allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying “blood money” to a girl who was injured when he raped her.”
How do we define prostitution? Forced prostitution.
**…. for she knows that tomorrow any man, however vile and brutal, however godless and merciless, if he only has money to pay for her, may become owner of her daughter, body and soul;
*”And, Emmeline, if we shouldn’t ever see each other again, after tomorrow, – if I’m sold way up on a plantation somewhere, and you somewhere else, – always remember…”
(From Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe)
Note: I had missed this news until I read Sraboney’s post here, and then received this link by email. Thanks to both : )