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The Killid Group
Justice ministry vetoes 'family law'Written by Abida Telayee
Saturday, 07 January 2012 15:42
A draft family law bill that was sent to the Ministry of Justice in June 2010 has been turned down, according to women's activists.
The draft law was compiled by a family law committee which included representatives from the Supreme Court, ministries of women's affairs and justice, Afghan Women's Network, AIHRC (Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission), Defence Attorneys Association and Democracy and Rights Association. The Canadian International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development supported the efforts of the family law committee.
The 210-article draft family law was submitted by the Ministry of Women's Affairs to the Ministry of Justice on June 23 last year.
Why was it rejected?
Adila Mohseni is a member of the Women's Political Participation Committee that has been working on the draft family law. She says the problem is not with the draft law but with the "thoughts of the minister of justice". "The minister of justice believes the Civil Law, which includes Family Law, is a good law and he says that we don't need any other law. But laws are drafted as per the needs of people," she told Killid in an interview.
Mohseni says laws have to keep pace with new ways for example cultural practices. With the migration of people from rural to urban areas there are social changes, she adds. The justice minister, however, believes nothing changes, she says ruefully.
New law for change
"Women want half the rights in a family," says Mohseni. "They want the right of fostering (Hadanat); they want the mother's name to be included in ID cards (Tazkira). Also women's right to inherit family property and money. When the minister of justice does not approve the draft family law it means there is support for underage marriages, polygamy and suicides by desperate women who have no recourse but to take their own lives."
Women's activists have met the justice minister several times regarding the draft law.
Meanwhile attorney Abdul Majeed Ghani Zaada, head of the civil law department of Institute of Legislative Affairs in the Ministry of Justice, thinks the main problem with the draft law is that it relies on the Civil Law. "Ninety percent of the draft is from Civil Law. Articles 56 to 267 in the Civil Law are specifically regarding family issues," he says. According to Ghani Zaada, shortcomings in the Civil Law could have been made up with changes by the Ministry of Women's Affairs. There is little sense in proposing a new law that borrows so heavily from an existing law, he says. The civil law is roughly four-decades old, and has 2,416 articles, he points out. "If there is any gap, it should be rectified. The whole law cannot be replaced," he adds.
Ghani Zaada says the family law committee was advised to propose amendments that would be included as annex/supplements of Family Law in the Civil Law. "The ministry has not received any amendments," he says.
Abdul Wakil Omari, director publication of the Supreme Court, believes there is no need for a new family law. "We have the Civil Law," he says, "people and courts have no problem with it. I don't think there is any need for new laws. If there is a need, amendments are sufficient."
What is the Supreme Court's view?
Adila Mohseni thinks there is no support for women in the all-male court. "Civil society should force the justice ministry to approve the family law. If that doesn't succeed a signature campaign should be started to lobby with the president to support the Law against Violation."