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The Afghan government, meanwhile, is coming under international pressure to drop a law that effectively legalizes rape within marriage and further restricts women’s rights. According toThe Guardianof London, the law bans women from refusing to have sex with their husbands and says they can only seek work, education or medical care with their husbands’ permission. Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed the measure into law last month.
In other news from Afghanistan, a new law has gone into effect that allows a husband to starve his wife if she refuses to have sex. The law also prohibits women from working without their husband’s permission. Critics of the bill have accused President Karzai of selling out Afghan women for the sake of support from conservative Shiites in this week’s election. The bill also grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers, and it effectively allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying “blood money” to a girl who was injured when he raped her.
Here in New York, a group of Jewish activists have been staging a twenty-four-hour protest in front of the Midtown Manhattan building that houses the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency. Jane Hirschmann helped organize the event.
Jane Hirschmann: “My parents were Holocaust survivors. And when I was a young girl, they taught me that it was important to have a Jewish homeland. But I question all that, because if getting a Jewish homeland means that you have to persecute 750,000 Palestinians and remove them from their land to get the state of Israel and then to continue for sixty years to persecute other people to control their air, their land, their sea, to control their water, to decide where they can go and when they can go, to put up barbed wire and keep them behind a wall, then I don’t want my children to grow up learning that because you’ve been persecuted in the past, you have a right to persecute others. And that’s why I’m standing here today as a Jew.”
Other protesters included the artist Abigail Levine.
Abigail Levine: “I don’t feel conscionable with this senseless violence being perpetuated in the name of the Jewish people and Jewish culture. And in one of the centers of the Jewish community in the world, here in New York, I feel like we have to stand up and say no to the occupation and no to violence against Palestinians. These people have a right to a humane existence and to education and to a decent home, like we demanded in our history.”
“Any country as good as the United States of America should be able to have affordable healthcare for all of its citizens. When 41 million
people do not have the right to healthcare, it’s a travesty, it’s an injustice, it’s unfair.”
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