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Crowd attacks Afghan women protesting marital sex law

Hundreds, possibly a thousand, Afghans surrounded a group of more than 100 women protesters, who had taken to Kabul streets on Wednesday to protest a new family law they said violates wives' rights.

Police officers hold back throngs of demonstrators

Police officers tried to stop the Shiite counter-protesters

The women were pelted with small stones as police struggled to keep the two groups apart.

The law, passed last month, says a husband can demand sex with his wife every four days unless she is ill or would be harmed by intercourse -- a clause that critics say legalizes marital rape. It also regulates when and for what reasons a wife may leave her home alone.

Women's rights activists scheduled a protest Wednesday attended by mostly young women. But the group was swamped by counter-protesters -- both men and women -- who shouted down the women's chants.

Witnesses told dpa news service that at least three people were wounded by police gunshots in western Kabul when a group of young Shiite men tried to stop schoolgirls who were on their way to join the protest against the Shiite family law.

Lawmakers passed the regulation and President Hamid Karzai signed last month, amid national and international criticism.

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