Controversial women's law to be reviewed: Karzai
Afghan President Hamid Karzai says a new law that critics say would severely undermine women's rights will be studied and may be sent back to parliament.
The law makes it illegal for Shia Muslim women in the country to refuse to have sex with their husbands and restricts their rights outside the home as well.
Media reports Friday said the law contains articles that said women cannot leave the house or seek education without their husbands' permission.
Karzai told reporters in Kabul on Saturday he has told the Justice Ministry to review the law, and if anything in it contravenes the country's constitution or Islamic sharia law, "measures will be taken."
"The minister of justice will study the whole law, every item of it, very very carefully. If there is anything that is of concern to us, then we will definitely take action, in consultation with our ulemma (council of religious scholars) and send it back to the parliament."
Karzai also said the law may have been misinterpreted because of poor translation.
Canada has 'significant concerns' over new law
NATO's outgoing secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, responded to news that the law had been passed by saying it "fundamentally violates women's rights and human rights."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he raised Canada's "significant concerns" at the NATO summit over the rights of women in Afghanistan.
"I'm pleased to see that President Karzai is submitting this law to further review," he told reporters as the summit ended.
"That said, let me be very clear on this ... there is going to remain enormous pressure on the government of Afghanistan on this question. This goes fundamentally, directly, to the heart of the reasons for allied engagement."
U.S. President Barack Obama — also speaking after the summit wrapped up in Strasbourg, France —called the new law "abhorrent." He said the legislation came up in conversations among the military allies, adding that NATO's closing statement specifically says human rights should be respected.
The legislation, passed in February, is intended to regulate family life inside Afghanistan's Shia community, but the United Nations Development Fund for Women said it "legalizes the rape of a wife by her husband."
Critics say the Afghan government approved it in a hurry to win support in the Aug. 20 election from ethnic Hazaras — a Shia Muslim minority that constitutes a crucial block of swing voters.