I sometimes feel that I am not grateful enough for the gender equality that I enjoy in my country and in my religion. I am reminded of how truly blessed I am when leaders of other countries pass laws like the one Hamid Karzai just passed in Afghanistan. One provision makes it illegal for a woman to reject her husbands sexual advances, effectively legalizing marital rape. (Although, in an effort to compromise, Karzai suggested that the law should be changed to require women to have sex with their husbands every four days. I’m looking for a way to be sarcastic about this but words fail me.) Another provision would not allow girls or women to attend school or work or even leave the house without their father or husband’s permission. Women also could not refuse to wear makeup if their husband required it.
Yesterday, 300 very brave Afghan women marched in the street to protest this law and demanded that they be given equal rights…that they be treated like human beings! For this action they were called whores and had stones thrown at them.
I am weeping as I write this because it should not hurt to be a woman and I want to know why it does? Can somebody please explain to me why my Afghan sisters have to ask permission from their government not to be raped?
And in case you’re feeling a little too comfortable in the privilege of being a woman living in the United States, spousal rape was only made a punishable crime country-wide in 1993 with the passing of stricter sexual offense codes. Despite the criminalization of marital rape, there are still at least thirty-three states that grant exemptions to the perpetrators in certain cases. There is also one major university granting an honorary doctorate to a famous marital rape apologist THIS YEAR!
We should never be fooled into thinking that we have reached the pinnacle of equality. We are all connected and until our sisters in Afghanistan enjoy the same rights we do, no woman will ever be truly equal.