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Published on April 3, 2009
Statement by Rama Yade, Minister of State responsible for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights.

Paris, April 3 2009

I am deeply shocked by the provisions of a law recently adopted by the Afghan Parliament that recalls the darkest hours of Afghanistan’s history. This law contains provisions which are particularly discriminatory with respect to Afghan women, dictating, for example, that they must submit to their husband’s sexual demands and prohibiting them from leaving the house without their husband’s permission.

This law is a very grave step backwards for women’s basic rights. It flagrantly contradicts the 2004 Afghan constitution, which formally guarantees equality between men and women. It could also destroy the efforts of Afghan women themselves and the international community to ensure the dignity and emancipation of women. Let me remind you that the Afghan government pledged to respect international texts on human rights, notably the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The fact that President Karzai agreed to sign the law adopted by the Afghan Parliament is a source of deep concern to all those who are fighting on a daily basis on behalf of Afghan women, who have suffered all too much in recent years.

On the occasion of my visit to Afghanistan last September, I had the opportunity to reiterate France’s unwavering commitment to the cause of Afghan women and the respect of their rights. This mobilization and this vigilance are more necessary than ever./.

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