While many folks in the West have been outraged by Afghanistan’s proposed law to make rape within marriage legal for Shia Muslims, it seems that Afghan women want the West to stay out of the debate.
Young women attending Kabul University – probably the most progressive institution in Afghanistan – were surprised and bewildered about the ‘Afghan rape law’ debate that’s been raging in Europe and North America. The Calgary Herald reports that the “nearly unanimous view on the campus was that the West should not involve itself in the country’s cultural and religious affairs.” Hamida Hasani, an 18 year old student said the problem of women’s rights in Afghanistan belongs only to the Afghan women, and that Western women who have not experienced war or hunger can’t understand what the most important things to fight for are.
The article also mentions that most people in Afghanistan are not aware of the pending new law because “public awareness of any legislation before parliament is very low.”
Issues like this are tough; as a feminist I care about women’s rights and well-being and I want all women to live with equality and freedom – regardless of their culture. However, I also want to be respectful of other cultures and not impose Western ideas of what’s “right” onto other people. What do you think - should the West back off or continue to express their outrage on this issue?