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Comment on Afghan Government’s Rape Law

What about marital rape in the West?

Thursday 9 April 2009, by Bethany Niebauer

It’s about Afghanistan’s recent decision to legalize marital rape and it raises reasonable questions about why the United States is supporting a government that more and more resembles the Taliban. I thought we invaded to remove the Taliban, not elect them to high office.

I have to say that the outrage generated by this law infuriates me. I find it vastly hypocritical. In the United States there are thirty-three states that consider marital rape to be a lesser crime than stranger rape. This is especially appalling considering that nearly three quarters of rape victims know their attackers. Americans are angry because marital rape is legal in Afghanistan but we’re complacent when the same crime is scarcely illegal in our own country. A woman is raped every three minutes and a woman is beaten every eighteen seconds. It’s taken me about forty-five minutes to write this. Do the math yourself. It didn’t happen half way around the world, or 3000 miles away or in the next state or the next town - it is happening now and it is happening in your neighborhood. You probably know a rape victim. You probably know a rapist.

Before this law was passed what were the chances that a victim of marital rape could prosecute her husband in court? Notice I said "prosecute" not "convict." What were the chances that a victim of any kind of rape could prosecute her attacker in court? Women are blamed for being raped in our culture and in Afghan culture. Under sharia, (which I refuse to capitalize), law a woman needs four witnesses to prove her crime took place. In Afghanistan and other countries, women are the ones who go to jail for rape and they go to jail in staggering quantities yet you would be hard-pressed to find a rapist in these jails. What does this tell us? It tells us that rape is acceptable and that the people who write the laws, (ie men), believe women exist to be fucked by men.

Some men are going to read this and call me to tell me that not all men rape. They’re going to tell me that they are appalled by rape. They’re going to tell me how guilty they feel that other men rape. I want to tell these men that they are the ones who are in charge and that the guilt they feel strongly resembles acquiescence to a situation they don’t care to change.

In places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq women are commodities. If one of them is perceived to be damaged she is thrown away or destroyed and no one is likely to care. She is property and if one wife is "polluted" through rape it’s no big deal because you can go out and buy another one. This is about the control of women, about ensuring and enabling sexual access to them and about keeping them as reproductive slaves. I am not outraged by Afghanistan’s recent decision. I am barely surprised.

Do you want to do something about this situation? Send some money to the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. Rest assured that even though they are revolutionary they are non-violent. (Though I wouldn’t mind if they started throwing the occasional molotov-cocktail and if they did I might run away and join them). If you prefer to help women in the U.S.A, send some money to RAINN.

**I wrote this with help from Andrea Dworkin. I can do that because it’s not like anyone who reads my blog has read her.


Kabulpress comments on the Afghan government’s “Rape Law”

More evidence of re-Talibanization of Afghanistan/ Just as Karzai has said he will review the constitutionality of the Personal Status Law, so should Barack Obama and the United States Congress review the decision to send more troops and funds to support this Afghan government.

Thursday 9 April 2009, by Kamran Mir Hazar, Robert Maier

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Bethany Niebauer is a U.S.-based blogger and women’s reproductive rights worker. Her husband is in the U.S. military and been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.




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