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World

Critics outraged over Afghan sex law

A new law in Afghanistan requires women to be more submissive to their husbands and to have sex with them on command. Europe has criticized the law, saying it's worse than when the Taliban ruled the country.

A Shiite woman holding her hand over her mouth

Critics argue the law is worse than when the Taliban was in control

A new law signed by Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai requires Shiite women to ask permission from their husbands before leaving the house and to respond to their request for sex. The law has caused outrage around the world.

Guenter Nooke, Germany's Federal Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid told Spiegel Online in an interview published Saturday that the Afghan government, with this law, breaks promises it has made to the international community over protection of human rights.

Media reports said that the law, which has not yet been published, bans Shiite women from seeking work, getting an education or making a doctor's appointment without their husband's permission. As many as an estimated 25 percent of Afghans are Shiite Muslims.

In addition, the law reportedly also mandates that only fathers and grandfathers can be granted child custody.

According to the dpa news agency, other opponents of the legislation have described it as "worse than during the Taliban."

Critics accused Karzai of pandering to crucial Shiite swing voters for the upcoming presidential poll, which is scheduled for August.

Asked about the law earlier this week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "Women's rights are a central part of American foreign policy in the Obama administration. ... We will continue to work very hard on behalf of women and girls in Afghanistan."

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