The first woman nominated to Afghanistan’s supreme court has failed to win enough votes in parliament. Anisa Rassouli got 88 of the 97 votes needed for her nomination to be approved. The Guardian reports:
Wednesday’s vote came after clerics and conservatives lined up to criticise the choice of Rassouli, who has been a judge for 24 years and is the current head of Kabul’s juvenile court. They claimed only men were fit to sit in the highest court in the country.
Last month, one MP made his views clear. Menstruating women were considered unclean in Islam and were not allowed to touch the Qur’an, Qazi Nazeer Hanafi said. As judges put their hands on the holy book every day, and it was unfeasible for a supreme court judge to take a week off every month, ran his logic, Rassouli’s appointment should be opposed.
“It is against Islamic law. I will make a campaign and tell the other brothers to vote against her,” said Hanafi. “It would be a crime if I voted for her.”
Because women menstruate, as part of the process that makes them able to gestate new human beings. Mr Not allowed to touch the Qur’an is basically saying the process that makes new human beings is so filthy that a menstruating woman pollutes everything she touches.
If that’s true, why did Allah arrange things that way? Why did Allah make women and menstrual blood in such a way that the menstrual blood seeps through the woman’s entire body and pollutes everything she touches? Why did Allah make menstrual blood a pollutant? Why didn’t Allah make it a nice clean sweet substance like dew or ginger ale?
Or, to get more basic about it, why did Allah make the men who worship Allah such woman-hating shits?
Rights advocates had hoped the presence of a woman on the supreme court could help overhaul Afghanistan’s inherently sexist legal system. Family and marital law favours men, and a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man. The vast majority of girls and women in Afghanistan’s prisons have been jailed for moral crimes, such as running away from home to escape a violent husband.
That’s a funny way to put it. Leaving a husband isn’t a crime at all. Adults don’t “run away from home”; they leave, if they need to, as is their right. The vast majority of girls and women in Afghanistan’s prisons have been jailed for non-crimes like leaving a violent husband.
Had her nomination been approved, one imminent challenge for Rassouli would have been to build Afghans’ trust in the formal legal system. In rural areas in particular, many people prefer local, informal councils to courts of law, which are often inaccessible and reputed to be slow and corrupt. However, the informal system often grants impunity to male suspects, such as those accused of domestic violence.
“Women who prefer to go to village courts don’t have enough information and are uneducated. If I talk to them face to face, I can explain why the formal system is better,” Rassouli said last month. “The main problem is security. We could bring the courts to the villages if there was better security, and then people wouldn’t use the local councils.”
Rassouli said her presence at the supreme court could potentially help women gain faith in the legal system. “We have a lot of women who come to the supreme court asking about their rights. Women are more comfortable talking to a female judge, so there’s need for me to be there,” she said.
So no wonder they didn’t approve her.