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Afghan women rally against domestic violence, proposed law

About 100 women marched in Kabul on Thursday to protest new legislation that legal experts said would curb prosecutions involving violence against women.
Parwiz Sabawoon/European Pressphoto Agency
About 100 women marched in Kabul on Thursday to protest new legislation that legal experts said would curb prosecutions involving violence against women.

KABUL — Afghan women marched in Kabul on Thursday to protest violence against women and decry a new draft law that activists say will severely limit justice for victims of domestic abuse.

Afghanistan’s Parliament recently passed a new criminal procedure code that would ban people from testifying against their relatives. The legislation — awaiting a signature from President Hamid Karzai — has prompted statements of concern from human rights organizations, the United States, European Union, and others.

Legal experts say the law would seriously curb prosecutions involving violence against women, where relatives are often the only witnesses.

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About 100 women marched through Kabul on Thursday, chanting ‘‘no more violence’’ and ‘‘justice, justice.’’

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Afghan women rights activist Laila Jafari said the women were urging Parliament and law enforcement agencies to better understand the problems facing Afghan women.

Article 26 bars a broad swath of ‘‘relatives’’ from acting as witnesses, which presents a problem in a country where women are often cloistered at home and the bulk of violence committed against them is either by or in front of family members.

In practice, legal experts say, it would mean that a woman cannot testify that her uncle raped her, that a mother who sees her daughter beaten by her father or brother cannot testify, and that family members witnessing a young woman being forced into marriage by her father cannot be used in a prosecution.

Associated Press