History of Afghan Women

Female Protests to the Law

Hamad Karzai

International Opposition






In February 2009, the Shia Family Law also known as the Shiite Personal Status Law was passed. This law only applies to the Shia community which represents approximately 10% of the Afghanistan population. Afghan President Hamid Karzai pushed the bill straight to the Afghanistan Supreme Court, without being debated within the House of Elders, the Afghan Nation Assembly’s upper house, and the House of the People.

The Shia Family Law:

-Forces women to have sex with their husbands every fourth night except in the event of illness, ultimately supporting marital rape. 

-Gives husband’s preferential inheritance rights (including full custody of their children) and access to divorce.

-Approves child marriage, making the legal age for girls to marry 16.

-Restricts a woman’s right to leave the home.  Wives may not leave the home without a male escort or permission and must dress according to their husband’s wishes.

-Wives must have permission to receive an education and seek employment.

-If a wife refuses to follow these rules, the husband is allowed to stop feeding her.

The United Nations Development Fund for Women and countries such as Canada, United States, Germany have asked to see the official document, but the Afghanistan government has refused to publicly release it until “technical difficulties” have been corrected.