Protests halt debate over eliminating `violence against women` in Afghan Parliament
London: A debate held by Afghanistan MPs to back up law to eliminate violence against women came to a standstill amid angry protests by traditionalists.
A 2009 presidential decree has banned violence against women, child marriages and forced marriages but was not approved in the parliament, the BBC reports.
According to the report, the speaker had to end the debate 15 minutes after the protests started for the law to be scrapped as mullahs, fundamentalists and other traditionalist MPs accused President Karzai during the debate of acting against Islamic Sharia law by signing the decree in the first place.
They also demanded a change in the law so that men cannot be prosecuted for rape within marriage.
While some women activists said that debating on the law in parliament will pave the way for conservatives to amend it and weaken protection for women, others such as potential presidential candidate Fawzia Koofi and her supporters wanted the law to be approved in the parliament so that it was irreversible.
Koofi said that the government provides for a lack of assurance that any president of Afghanistan will have any commitment to women`s issues and in particular towards this decree.
Karzai has been attacked by women activists and groups for frequently changing his position on women`s rights as last year he had endorsed a `code of conduct` issued by an influential council of clerics allowing husbands to beat wives under certain circumstances.
The report said that hundreds of people have been imprisoned under the current law that had been introduced by president Hamid Karzai in 2009.
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