Saturday, April 11, 2009

Afghan Cleric Defends Rape Law : The Koran Sanctions it

A key backer of an Afghan law that critics say legalizes marital rape and rolls back women’s rights rejected an international outcry as foreign meddling on Saturday and insisted the legislation offers women many protections.

The law, passed last month, says a husband can demand sex with his wife every four days unless she is ill or would be harmed by intercourse, and regulates when and for what reasons a wife may leave her home alone.

The legislation has raised the specter of the deposed hard-line Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The strict Islamist regime required women to wear body-covering burqas and banned them from leaving home without a male relative.


“In Shariah law, it states that a woman cannot go out without the permission of her husband,” he said. He argued that the law is permissive because it allows a woman to go out for a medical emergency or other urgent reason without asking beforehand. In addition, a couple can agree to opt out of this rule when signing a marriage contract, he said.

Mohseni said much of the uproar has come from people misinterpreting the law. He said a woman can refuse sex with her husband for many reasons beyond illness. For example, he said, a woman may be fasting for Ramadan, preparing for a pilgrimage, menstruating, or just given birth.

The law says that every fourth day a man “can pass the night with his wife, unless it is harmful for either side, or either of them is suffering from any kind of sexual disease. It is essential for the woman to submit to the man’s sexual desire.”

“If she is not sick, and if she does not have another problem, it is the right of a man to ask for sex and she should make herself ready for it. This is the right of a man,” Mohseni explained.