Afghan officials say they are dropping proposed legislation bringing back public stoning for adultery after an international outcry.
The proposal came from a committee charged with proposing laws based on sharia. That committee is led by Afghanistan's justice minister, described by the Guardian as "an outspoken conservative who last year denounced the country's handful of shelters for battered women as brothels."
Writer Phyllis Chesler notes that the proposal itself is a sign of Afghanistan's looming descent as American forces prepare to complete their withdrawal. "I know that if Western boots on the ground leave Afghanistan, that every humanitarian project will disappear overnight and the country will become a Living Hell," she writes.
Chesler, a noted feminist and author, experienced some of Afghanistan's tribal misogyny first hand, as recounted in her new book An American Bride in Kabul. Already, she writes in a column last week, "Afghan men can marry female children, keep male children as sex-toys, maintain four wives, and visit prostitutes from dawn to dawn." But an Afghan woman faces arrest or honor violence from her family if she tries to escape an abusive family.
The stoning law may not come about now, but it shouldn't be considered a dead issue.
Chesler describes President Hamid Karzai as "a quintessentially wily Afghan who needs to posture against the infidel West in order to keep his conservative countrymen from assassinating him."
Human rights advocates may breathe a sigh of relief that the stoning law has been tabled. But few expect that to be a harbinger of a more progressive nation going forward.
The stoning proposal "is not an aberration that appeared out of the blue," Human Rights Watch's Heather Barr told the Guardian. Without the global community's "constant pressure" on the Afghan government, "there will be no women's rights."