Women’s rights: India, Iran and Afghanistan

More than 160 years after establishing a penal code for what was then a British colony, India is poised to replace it with new laws free of colonial remnants designed to speed up the judicial process. The government presented bills to the parliament to emphasise, among others, crimes against women. However, according to some lawyers, little will change – gang rape is still punishable by 20 years or life imprisonment, and marital rape has not been considered a crime.

Iranian MPs voted to examine the hijab law without needing a public debate. The Hijab and Chastity Act would impose many new penalties on women who do not wear this headgear. Wearing the hijab inappropriately will be a separate crime, punishable by five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $8,508. The hijab is a powerful political symbol in Iran – both for the ideology of the clerical establishment and for women fighting for their rights.

According to a spokesman for the Taliban’s Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, women in the Afghan government lose their value if men can see their uncovered faces in public. The government’s position is supported by local religious studies experts. Women’s failure to wear the hijab properly is why they are banned from most public places, including parks, workplaces and universities. Women can enter the park when men are not there.

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