It should be remembered that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is the same man who recently signed off on a “morality code of conduct” that permitted men to beat and rape their wives. The problem with the laws that ban the face-veil, like this one and the one in France, is that it penalizes the very victim it purports to be standing up for (in this case, veiled women). It’s worth noting that many Muslim women in France have been arrested protesting this law, and wearing their veils as a protest against what they see as infringement upon their religious freedom.
It’s kind of like passing laws criminalizing prostitution, or sex-work. Yes, it’s the case that many sex workers are coerced into this activity due to direct and indirect sexism and oppression. But fining, jailing, or generally threatening women with punishment for participating in this activity, is itself also an injustice.
A better law would be to fine or punish any male found guilty of forcing a woman to wear a veil, rather than punishing the woman herself who wears the veil either by choice or coercion.
In a sudden and shocking move, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai has authorized a ban on wearing full veils in public places. This action makes Afghanistan the first Islamic country to impose restrictions on a form of attire that many Muslims consider a religious obligation.
Human Rights Watch was fast to respond to Karzai’s highly unexpected decree and … they expressed concern about the very likely possibility that women will be persecuted even more with the implementation of this new law.
“I’m deeply worried that, on one hand, women will be jailed and prosecuted by wearing burkas on Mondays and, on the other hand, brutally beaten by their husbands when trying to obey the new law and discard their traditional clothing on this one day,” said Rights Watch’s executive director, Kenneth Roth.