Afghan Women Can't Go a Long Way, Baby (Without a Male Chaperone)
So saith Afghan parliamentarian Al-Hajj Abdul Jabbar Shalgarai, appalled that fellow parliamentarians of the female persuasion were also on a trip to London trying to gin up aid for their country–unchaperoned! From the Christian Science Monitor report:
Under sharia, the notion of mahram-e sharaii, or male chaperones, allows for women to travel for more than three days if they are accompanied with a male relative. Because mahram-e sharaii has not been introduced as a bill, it is impossible to know just how much parliamentarian support it has. But with an estimated 50 percent of the lower house claiming past experience as fighters in the anti-Soviet jihad, and current affiliation with Islamist parties, it's clear that conservative interpretations of Islamic life have a strong political hold.
Zeefunun Safi, another parliamentarian, agrees. "If my husband accepts me, and lets me travel and be a member of parliament, then who are you not to accept me?"
Yet she acknowledges that some women parliamentarians may end up supporting mahram-e sharaii, if it ever is introduced as a bill. "There are lots of women in Parliament against this, but they have to support it, because people will say, 'You are not our representative, get out of Parliament.' "
The Constitution of Afghanistan does not explicitly mention Sharia, but does say "no law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of the holy religion of Islam in Afghanistan." Does this mean that no individual shall be permitted to contravene those tenets? Seems not, as it does provide that non-Moslems shall be able to practice their religion. Still, as Ms. Safi noted above, Afghanistan's seems like the kind of representative democracy in which restrictions on women's rights might be more than welcome.
[Link via Rational Review.]