Afghanistan’s parliament failed to pass a law on Saturday banning violence against women, a severe blow to progress made in women’s rights in the conservative Muslim country since the Islamist Taliban was toppled over a decade ago.
President Hamid Karzai approved the law by decree in 2009 and parliament’s endorsement was required. But a rift between conservative and more secular members of the assembly resulted in debate being deferred to a later date.
Religious members objected to at least eight articles in the legislation, including keeping the legal age for women to marry at 16, the existence of shelters for domestic abuse victims and the halving of the number of wives permitted to two.
“Today, the parliamentarians who oppose women’s development, women’s rights and the success of women…made their voices loud and clear,” Fawzia Koofi, head of parliament’s women’s commission, told Reuters.