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Marital Rape Law: Your Body is NOT Your Husband’s Right

by Sabrin

Just a few weeks after OAA posted an article on sexual assault and the importance of addressing it in our community, the Taliban passed a law in Afghanistan which permits, among other things, marital rape.

A specific provision in the new amendment of laws clearly states, “As long as the husband is not traveling, he has the right to have sexual intercourse with his wife every fourth night…Unless the wife is ill or has any kind of illness that intercourse could aggravate, the wife is bound to give a positive response to the sexual desires of her husband.”

It is beyond shocking that this type of law was even introducted let alone passed by a government and sheds light to the distorted view of sexuality and gender roles in South Asian communities. 

Why is it that a women’s body is thought to be her husband’s possession, under his control at all times?

Sadly enough, I find that many young members of the community also assume this. I remember once speaking with someone about a recent tragic incident where a women was raped by her husband. I was more than horrified at his response, when he replied ” Raped by your husband? How can a husband rape his wife? How can a husband having sex with his wife ever be considered rape?”

But amidst all this tragedy, there is still hope.  Last week, 300 Afghan women marched in protest to demand that the Afghanistan Parliament repeal this new law.

“It was an extraordinary scene. Women are mostly illiterate in this impoverished country, and they do not, generally speaking, enjoy anything near the freedom accorded to men. But there they were, most of them young, many in jeans, defying a threatening crowd and calling out slogans heavy with meaning,” NY Times

According to the New York Times, in response to the protest, President Karzai has begun looking for a way to remove the most controversial parts of the law

Such courage and voracity should inspire all of us to do our part and work towards changing cultural perceptions.  OAA applauds the work and spirit of these Afghan women and hope we can all work to advance women’s rights with their strength and vigor.

What are your views on this new law and its implications for the role of women in South Asian society? And how can we work to increase the understanding and perception of marital rape in our communities?


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