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Afghan women's rights debate put on hold amid bickering

May 18, 2013 at 10:25 AM   |   Comments

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 18 (UPI) -- A debate in parliament on a proposed law to prevent violence against women was put on hold Saturday amid bickering by Afghan lawmakers, officials said.

The law banning violence against women, child marriages and forced marriages was passed by decree in 2009 by President Hamid Karzai without parliamentary approval. It has been opened up to debate for parliamentary backing, a move that has split women activists in the country, the BBC reported Saturday.

Member of parliament Farkhunda Zahra Naderi said opening the law up for debate could make way for conservatives to amend it and weaken protections for women. Some conservative lawmakers argue the law goes against Islamic Sharia law and are seeking to amend the law so men cannot be prosecuted for rape within a marriage, the BBC said.

Some women welcome parliamentary backing as a way to validate the law, the BBC reported.

"There is a lack of assurance that any president of Afghanistan will have any commitment to women's issues and in particular towards this decree," said MP Fawzia Koofi.

The existing law passed by Karzai will remain in effect until a future debate can be held, the BBC said.

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