Kabul should reject anti-woman legislation: rights body

Indo Asian News Service

Kabul, July 16 (IANS) Afghanistan's parliament should reject a proposed criminal law revision that would effectively deny women legal protection from domestic violence, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

A new draft of the criminal procedure code, seen by Human Rights Watch, is currently being considered by parliament.

The proposed language would prohibit the relatives of a criminal defendant from being questioned as a witness against the accused.

Should this provision become law, victims and other family members who have been witnesses to abuse will be silenced in domestic violence cases, making successful prosecutions unlikely.

"Afghanistan's lower house is proposing to protect the batterers of women and girls from criminal punishment," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

"Legislative approval of this criminal law revision would effectively stop prosecutions of people who beat, forcibly marry, and even sell their female relatives."

The proposed ban on testifying against relatives follows several other efforts by parliament to further weaken the inadequate legal protections for women's rights, Human Rights Watch said.

In May, parliament passed a revision of Afghanistan's Electoral Law that deleted an existing guarantee reserving at least 25 percent of seats in each of Afghanistan's 34 provincial councils for female candidates.

The new version of the law provided no set-aside provincial council seats for women.