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Afghanistan fails to pass law banning violence against women

A law banning violence against women, considered a major step forward in women's rights in Afghanistan, failed to pass parliament. The law would have also created shelters for abused women, and limited the number of wives permitted to two.

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Afghani women look out over Kabul from the Naderkhan hill in Kabul, April, 30. The Taliban were thrown out 12 years ago ending five years of rule and regressive laws that enforced a tribal tradition and culture more than religious compulsions, denying girls schools and ordering women to stay indoors unless accompanied by a male.

Ahmad Jamshid/AP

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Afghanistan's parliament failed to pass a law on Saturday banning violence against women, a severe blow to progress made in women's rights in the conservative Muslim country since the Islamist Taliban was toppled over a decade ago.

President Hamid Karzai approved the law by decree in 2009 and parliament's endorsement was required. But a rift between conservative and more secular members of the assembly resulted in debate being deferred to a later date.

Religious members objected to at least eight articles in the legislation, including keeping the legal age for women to marry at 16, the existence of shelters for domestic abuse victims and the halving of the number of wives permitted to two.

 
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