London Telegraph 
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
President Hamid Karzai has signed a law the UN says legalises rape in marriage and prevents women from leaving the house without permission.
The law, which has not been publicly released, is believed to state women can only seek work, education or doctor’s appointments with their husband’s permission.
Only fathers and grandfathers are granted custody of children under the law, according to the United Nations Development Fund for Women.
Opponents of the legislation governing the personal lives of Afghanistan’s Shia minority have said it is “worse than during the Taliban”.
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Mr Karzai has been accused of electioneering at the expense of women’s rights by signing the law to appeal to crucial Shia swing voters in this year’s presidential poll.
While the Afghan constitution guarantees equal rights for women, it also allows the Shia community, thought to represent 10 per cent of the population, the right to settle family law cases according to Shia law.
The Shiite Personal Status Law contains provisions on marriage, divorce, inheritance, rights of movement and bankruptcy.
The bill passed both houses of the Afghan parliament, but was so contentious that the United Nations and women’s rights campaigners have so far been unable to see a copy of the approved bill.
Full story here.