It’s obviously true that different people have different ideas of what their natural and fair rights are. For example, I would naturally suppose that I have the right to walk around outside, but that I as an individual have no right to have sex with another individual.
Yet, as one more part of the rich a diverse tapestry of cultures across the world, the Afghan parliament is proposing that I have this the wrong way round. Sex is in fact something that can be an individual’s right, and going outside can be a privilege.
Of course the people with the right to demand sex (Shia husbands) also naturally have the right to walk around outside. And those whose vaginas are to be legally transferred to someone else are the ones losing the right to walk outside.
This law has prompted protest, reassuringly, but the protests held by Afghan feminists are met by larger protests by supporters of the law (i.e. the pro-rape-and-imprisonment faction). Not just outnumbered, in fact, but pelted with stones.
This is not a law drafted by the Taliban, and the stone-throwers protesting in its favour are not Talibannites (as Shi’ites, the Taliban would consider them heretics). This is not the manifestation of a dark, malign, cave-dwelling force of evil that can be driven out with bombs and guns.
This is an expression of widespread societal misogyny. It is an expression of forces which can only be destroyed by two things: grass-roots change led by Afghan women, or a bombing campaign by foreign occupation forces. Which kills every individual in the country.
Western governments, for what it’s worth, are condemning the law. And that might be ok – there may well be little more that they can do to really change the situation. Except that some of those governments (not just the US, but, going a bit further back, the Russians and the British) have used their supposed aim of removing this sort of misogyny to justify an invasion – and are still using it to some extent to justify robotic warfare in Pakistan.
In related news, an International Labour Conference has been held in Iraq, which is a step forward. At the same time, a motion was brought forward in support of women’s rights and, after debate, defeated. This is – well, a step in that it was brought and debated, a non-step in that it was still defeated.