New Afghan law threatens women's rights, international support

A law approved on April 2 by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai starkly limits women's rights, drawing back recent progress for women in the country.

The law "explicitly sanctions marital rape," reports the United Kingdom's Times Online, which obtained a leaked copy of the new regulations, requiring women to "give a positive response to the sexual responses of her husband" every four days unless ill. It also permits girls to marry once they begin to menstruate and forbids women to leave their homes without their husband's permission. Opponents call Karzai's support for the law an attempt to garner support from Shia conservatives in the upcoming August election. The decision comes on the heels of Obama's urgings for increased troops in the country, but NATO head Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told the BBC that the new regulations could deter international support. Canada, the third largest contributor of forces, has already threatened to call back its troops unless the law is reconsidered.