Afghan President Hamid Karzai provoked international outrage with draconian restrictions on women and laws that explicitly sanction marital rape. A leaked copy of the laws obtained by The Times details new strictures for Afghanistan’s Shia minority. Women are banned from leaving the home without permission. A wife has the absolute duty to provide sexual services to her husband, and child marriage is legalised.
Terrible? Without a doubt. But it may also be good electoral politics. In a post in late January I mused on what US-style election consultants would tell Karzai to do:
In the run-up to the election, our consultant might say, having a another go at the international community might not be a bad idea. Kicking out a few human-rights NGOs would be a start and then he could ban driving by women, including by foreign women. In fact, why not ban all alcohol, including for foreigners. A raid on a restaurant frequented by diplomats might make good copy. And, like in Saudi Arabia, why not try to legislate that all women — again including foreigners — must wear headscarves at all times?
It looks like Karzai has done something very similar….