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April 27, 2009 (Washington, D.C.) Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), along with Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Judy Biggert (R-IL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) have introduced a concurrent resolution in the Senate and House of Representatives calling on Afghanistan’s leaders to repudiate a new Afghan law that legalizes marital rape and imposes other Taliban-era restrictions on Shiite women in Afghanistan.

“We stand with the hundreds of Afghan women who were pelted with stones and verbally abused last week as they marched to protest this abhorrent law,” Senator Boxer said. “This law is a direct attack on individual freedom and a license to commit despicable acts against women in their homes.”

The resolution urges Afghan President Hamid Karzai to declare the widely criticized provisions unconstitutional and clearly state that they violate the basic rights of women. In a recent interview with CNN, President Karzai indicated that the Afghan government plans to revise the 270-page law.

The resolution is cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Susan Collins (R-ME).

“I am proud to stand united with my Senate colleagues today to show our steadfast commitment to support the women of Afghanistan,” said Senator Mikulski, Dean of the Senate Women and member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Aid. “The Shiite Personal Status Law violates the basic human rights of women. American soldiers fight every day to help the Afghans create a stable and free nation that can protect and provide for its people. This is not the Afghanistan our brave men and women are fighting for. This law is an affront to the sacrifices they make every day. It cannot stand. The United States should do everything it can to encourage Afghanistan to respect the basic rights and welfare of women and children.”

Under the law passed by the Afghan Parliament and signed by President Karzai last month, a Shiite woman would only be allowed to leave home for a “legitimate purpose” as defined by her husband. The law also says, “Unless the wife is ill, the wife is bound to give a positive response to the sexual desires of the husband,” a provision that the United Nations and many human rights groups say legalizes marital rape.

On April 10, Senator Boxer along with her colleagues Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), wrote to Karzai urging him to reverse the law.

Full text of the resolution can be viewed at Senator Boxer’s website:

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