Afghanistan: Law Must Differentiate Between Adultery and Rape
Friday, September 4, 2009 12:37 PM

National and international human rights groups are calling for Afghani courts and government to legally differentiate between rape and adultery. Currently, Afghani courts prosecute cases of both rape and adultery through Articles 422-433 of the 1976 Penal Code. Through the Code, rapists and adulterers are sentenced to 7 to 15 years in jail. Marital rape is not considered a crime under Afghani law.

Mawlawi Mohammad Qasim, a member of the Penal Bureau in the Supreme Court, stated that rape is “an illicit sexual relationship between a man and a woman who are not married to each other.” (IRIN News)

Sonya Merkova, a researcher for Amnesty International, reported that female Afghani rape victims are often accused of zina, or having sex outside of marriage under Article 427 of the Afghan Penal Code, and may be prosecuted by the state for having committed zina. Parwin Rahimi, an official of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, and Ajmal Samadi from the Afghanistan Rights Monitor are working to have rape and adultery legally differentiated. Samadi argues that “rape needs to be legally recognized as a heinous crime and must be dealt with separately from Islamic adultery penal codes.” (IRIN News)

On 27 July 2009, the government released the text to a controversial law, applicable only to the country's Shia minority, which would allow rapists to avoid going to court by paying an injured rape victim. According to Human Rights Watch, the law also allows husbands to deny basic needs to wives should they refuse to acquiesce to sexual demands.

Compiled from: IRIN News, “Afghanistan: ‘Differentiate rape from adultery’- rights groups.” (3 September 2009); Human Rights Watch, “Afghanistan: Law Curbing Women’s Rights Takes Effect.” (13 August 2009).