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Karzai’s Endorsement of “Code of Conduct” a Setback for Women’s Rights in Afghanistan
Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai’s decision to endorse a document enforcing a “code of conduct” that limits women’s freedoms is a grave setback for women in Afghanistan. This decision, which comes a day before International Women’s Day on March 8, represents a serious threat to the advancements women have achieved in the country since the fall of the Taliban. Freedom House condemns this egregious affront to women’s rights and calls on Karzai to adhere to previous pledges and respect the constitution, which grants women equal status to men. The code of conduct strictly adheres to Sharia Law and would give men the right to beat women, require women to be accompanied by a male guardian when traveling, and under certain circumstances promote the segregation of men and women. President Karzai issued his endorsement upon the insistence of clerics from the influential Ulema Council.
Afghanistan is rated “Not Free” in the Freedom in the World 2011. The predominantly Muslim state has been plagued with election fraud, corruption, and rampant instability. During the Taliban’s reign, women were prohibited from attending school, leaving home without a male escort, and forced to wear burqas. Since 2001, the country has seen vast improvements for women’s rights. Women were granted equal rights under the constitution, given the chance pursue education, and allocated 68 seats in the lower house of the General Assembly.
Freedom in the World 2011: Afghanistan
Freedom of the Press 2011: Afghanistan