Kabul, Feb 4: Afghan President Hamid Karzai should refuse to sign a new criminal procedure code that would effectively deny women protection from domestic violence and forced or child marriage, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.
The new law, passed in both houses of the Afghan parliament, is expected to be sent to Karzai for final signature into law within weeks, if not earlier.
The law would prohibit judicial authorities from questioning the relatives of a criminal defendant, effectively silencing victims of domestic violence and forced or child marriage and their family members who have witnessed abuse.
This would make prosecutions of abusers extremely difficult, Human Rights Watch said.
“President Karzai should reject a law that will effectively let batterers of women and girls off the hook,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“Should this law go into effect, Afghan women and girls will be deprived of legal protection from relatives who assault, forcibly marry, or even sell them.”
The new criminal procedure code poses a serious threat to critical protections for women and girls embodied in Afghanistan’s groundbreaking Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) of 2009.
The EVAW law provided new criminal penalties for various abuses including rape, child marriage, forced marriage, domestic violence, sale of women and girls, and baad, the giving of girls to resolve disputes between families.