Issues Surround Divorce for Afghani Women
Monday, September 10, 2007 3:32 PM

ABANDONED AFGHAN WOMEN TRAPPED BY CONSERVATIVE STIGMAS... Afghan women deserted by their husbands are left trapped and disadvantaged both socially and economically, as cultural stigmas surrounding family disputes make women reluctant to seek divorce and other redress through the legal system, the Integrated Regional Information Network reported on August 21. Women are legally entitled to seek a divorce if their husbands are absent for over four years, but they rarely act on their rights due to the precedence of conservative customs over Afghan law, said Qazi Mohammad Akbar, the head of Faryab Province's secondary court. Children of abandoned marriages are also stigmatized due to the patriarchal nature of Afghanistan's society, say officials at the Women's Affairs Ministry, which assists women who apply for divorce. On the other hand, Islamic tradition allows that a man can either verbally express his desire to end a marriage to a judge or simply send divorce papers, said Suraya Subhrang, the women's rights commissioner at the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). Such an act essentially ruins the prospective future of his wife, who due to the frequency of arranged marriages in Afghanistan, is probably young and uneducated. In rural areas where traditions prevail and legal justice is secondary, the hardships experienced by women left by their husbands, including at the hands of abusive in-laws, have driven many desperate actions. According to the AIHRC, more than 250 Afghan women have committed suicide in the last six months.

Published in: "Abandoned Afghan Women Trapped by Conservative Stigmas," Jessica Coakley, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline, 22 August 2007.

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