Kabul, Afghanistan — But Santa doesn’t want gifts to women to be left out! No, this is the season for giving- and here’s what he and dear Ol’ Joe Biden are giving back to the double XX’s: Sharia Law.
So, what exactly, do our buddies the Taliban mean when they say that the rights of women in Afghanistan will be based on Sharia law?
After an exhaustive 5 minute Google search, it appears that this is a set of rules based upon the Quran and hadith (a hadith is a set of stories and discussions from the Prophet Muhammad that can be used as general guidelines for behavior).
They can differ slightly based upon how some hadith are interpreted and applied, but given that the Taliban historically favors the harshest and most misogynistic interpretations (we have witnessed their interpretations in the past) it is safe to conclude that we are talking about this:
- A woman must remain completely covered at all times in public. The Taliban mandated the most extreme form of covering, where even the face was not visible. She must speak quietly and not meet men’s eyes. (The goal is for her to move through society anonymously and unseen, not unlike my pay raise from The Liberty Loft.)
- The value of her word in a legal setting is half that of a man’s. Two women are required to challenge the testimony of one man because women are mentally deficient and one may need to remind the other. (Hey, I am just the messenger)
- An accusation of rape requires four male witnesses to the act itself. (This is based upon a hadith in which Mohammed was protecting his own wife from accusations of sexual impropriety.)
- No woman can marry on her own-the marriage must be arraigned by a male. A woman who arranges her own marriage is guilty of adultery.
- A woman who accuses a man of rape, but then sees him acquitted has de facto admitted to Zina (unlawful sexual intercourse) and can be punished including beating and/or jail time. This is currently the law in several Islamic countries, so not the great stretch of logic it sounds like to our tender Western ears.
- A woman shall not leave the house without her husband’s permission. (Not sure I am 100% against this one — The last time she went out to get some hamburger my wife came home with an additional meat-related product—a Thoroughbred gelding at 15 1/2 hands.) Some extend this to mean she may not be outdoors without a male guardian, but I cannot find any text that backs this up. (save the general obsession with controlling women’s interactions with other men).
- Honor Killings-Honor killing is a multicultural practice that says that an unmarried girl or woman of a family who has in fact or is just suspected of having a romantic relationship that includes any physical intimacy has brought shame to the family, the shame of such magnitude that it can only be obliterated by killing the guilty party (actual guilt notwithstanding) by a man of the family. He shows his true manliness by being willing to steel himself from showing compassion to his victim. To be fair, I have gone backward and forwards and I cannot find anything in the Quran that allows this at all. But it does seem to be a major tenet of the followers of Sharia Law, even if it’s not actually part of it.
- A man can have up to four wives. In theory, he must have the permission of existing wives to take another, and be able to care for them equally, but in countries where this is legal, one or both of those conditions are frequently ignored. Marrying a woman against her will is prohibited, but the Taliban routinely ignores that rule. (See: child brides)
- A wife must provide her husband with sex upon demand, even if she is at prayer or riding in the back of a camel (the mind boggles at the possibilities). There are a few legitimate reasons for denying him, like menstruation, but pretty much anything else is disobedience and defiance. (See above: punishments.)
- A girl as young as 9 can be married– (See above: refusal of sex.)
- A woman can be divorced simply by the husband saying “I divorce you “ three times. (See above: leave house without permission.) This has been done in some cases by text. If he regrets his decision and is willing to take her back, she must first marry another man and have sex with him, then divorce. (Marriage is grand. Divorce is 100 grand)
- A woman is free to ask for divorce, but her husband must grant it, or she must be released from her marriage by a Muslim religious authority. Many, many abused Muslim wives in other countries who seek escape from their marriages are told to go home and be more obedient, and try harder to please their husband so he does not feel the need to beat her.
- If a man “fears disobedience” (See above: … I got nothin) from his wife, he is ordered to admonish her, shun her sexually, and, if that does not correct the behavior, beat her (according to the Quran).
- Separation of the sexes is required “for modesty,” and to protect the woman from temptation. Extremists like the Taliban have a simple interpretation of this: that many jobs are off limits for women, because the women would have to interact with men. Last time the Taliban controlled the country women were supposed to stay at home unless there was pressing need to leave the house.
- The husband’s permission may be required for medical treatment– which is problematic where all these rules are strictly applied because there is a taboo against men seeing women naked. (I think husbands are exempt, but male children are not). There have been occasional tragic cases in strict Sharia based countries of women dying because their husbands were not available for permission in an emergency, and evidence exists concerning male doctors being beaten by angry husbands for treating their wives during pregnancy related emergencies. There are some men who would rather see their women die than allow a male doctor to see them without clothes on.
Under the rule of a group like the Taliban, who deny a woman the education needed to become a doctor … anyone see a looming problem with this?
That the Taliban interprets Sharia this way is clear from the laws they put in place last time they ruled the country. It is the reason why, when you see interviews with Afghan women now, they invariably break into tears.
So, what does the Taliban mean by Sharia Law?
They ruled Afghanistan before, so we know exactly what they mean. Any rights now granted to women will be in this context.
In fact, the same day the group pledged to usher in a new inclusive era in the country that honors “women’s rights,” Taliban fighters shot and killed a woman for not wearing a burqa in Afghanistan on Tuesday.
Lying in a pool of blood, with loved ones crouched around her, a photo emerged of a woman in Takhar after she was killed by insurgents for being in public without a head covering, according to Fox News.
After its swift takeover of the country in the absence of US troops, the killing came amid the group’s version of a charm offensive.
It’s almost like they don’t really mean it.
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