Karzai backs cler­ics’ guide­lines for women

The Washington Times Daily - - World -

KABUL | Afghanistan’s pres­i­dent on Tues­day en­dorsed a “code of con­duct” is­sued by an in­flu­en­tial coun­cil of cler­ics that ac­tivists say rep­re­sents a gi­ant step back­ward for women’s rights in the coun­try.

Hamid Karzai’s en­dorse­ment of the Ulema Coun­cil’s doc­u­ment, which al­lows hus­bands to beat wives un­der cer­tain cir­cum­stances and en­cour­ages seg­re­ga­tion of the sexes, is seen as part of his out­reach to in­sur­gents like the Tal­iban.

Both the U.S. and Mr. Karzai hope that the Tal­iban can be brought into ne­go­ti­a­tions to end the coun­try’s decade­long war. But ac­tivists worry that gains made by women since 2001 may be lost in the process.

When the Tal­iban ruled Afghanistan be­fore the 2001 U.S. in­va­sion, girls were banned from go­ing to school and women had to wear burqas that cov­ered them from head to toe. Women were not al­lowed to leave their homes with­out a male rel­a­tive as an es­cort.

The “code of con­duct” is­sued Fri­day by the Ulema Coun­cil as part of a longer state­ment on na­tional po­lit­i­cal is­sues is cast as a set of guide­lines that re­li­gious women should obey vol­un­tar­ily. Ac­tivists are con­cerned it will her­ald a re­ver­sal of the trend in Afghanistan since 2001 to pass laws aimed at ex­pand­ing women’s rights.


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