05/23/2013, 00.00
AFGHANISTAN
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Afghan university students protest against women's rights

During yesterday's protest in Kabul, protesters called for the repeal of a decree that defines domestic violence as a crime, bans child and forced marriages and says that rape victims cannot be prosecuted for adultery. It also outlaws "ba'ad", the traditional practice of exchanging women or girls to settle disputes or pay debts.

Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) - More than 200 male students protested in Kabul yesterday against women's rights, calling for the repeal of a presidential decree on the 'Elimination of Violence Against Women', which they say is un-Islamic.

The decree bans child and forced marriage, makes domestic violence a crime and says that rape victims cannot be prosecuted for adultery. It also outlaws "ba'ad," a traditional practice of exchanging women or girls to settle disputes or debts.

The protest came days after conservative lawmakers blocked an attempt to turn the decree into law.

Mawladad Jalali, the mullah of the university mosque, was one of the protest's organisers.  Yesterday, he called for parliament to repeal the decree. Demonstrators slammed the decree "imposed by foreigners" for violating Sharia.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued the decree on women's rights three years ago as part of a series of commitments to international donors, but a lawmaker wanted to pass it in parliament to prevent any future president from reversing it.

The parliamentary speaker ended the debate Saturday after fierce opposition from conservative lawmakers who said several provisions-including the ban on child marriage and jail time for domestic abuse-violated Islamic law.

The decree remains in force, but the debate appears to have roused opposition to it.

In another worrisome sign for activists, the international group Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that the number of women and girls jailed for alleged loose morals is the highest since the ouster of the Taliban, even though most of those detained are victims of abuse and have committed no crime under Afghan civil law.

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