March 31. “If these reports are true, this will create serious problems for Canada,” said International Trade Minister Stockwell Day. “The onus is on the government of Afghanistan to live up to its responsibilities for human rights, absolutely including rights of women … If there’s any wavering on this point from the government of Afghanistan, this will create serious problems and be a serious disappointment for us.”
April 1. Defence Minister Peter MacKay said he will use this week’s NATO summit to put “direct” pressure on his Afghan counterparts to abandon the legislation. “That’s unacceptable — period,” he said Wednesday. “We’re fighting for values that include equality and women’s rights. This sort of legislation won’t fly.”
April 2. Immigration MInister Jason Kenney reiterated the government’s deep concern about the law, but he did not raise the spectre of holding back aid money. Instead, he said the government plans to use its “significant influence” with the Karzai government. “Obviously our men and women [of the Canadian Forces] have been in Afghanistan to defend human rights and that includes women’s rights. And we intend to use it in every way possible to ask that the right of women be protected,” Kenney said.
April 2. “We haven’t had a chance yet to talk with the other ministers, so we haven’t made any decisions or had any discussions on next steps,” International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda said. “It’s very problematic. It’s a great concern and it is going to be a difficulty for Canada.”
April 4. “The involvement in the international community, and particularly Canada and our NATO allies, is based on the pursuit of very fundamental values in opposition to the kinds of values the Taliban stood for,” Harper told a news conference … “If we drift from that, there will be a clear diminishment in allied support for this venture,” Harper said.
April 6. Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon says he has been assured by the Afghan government that it will remove “contentious clauses” from a proposed law that critics say legalizes marital rape. Cannon said he spoke to the Afghan foreign minister, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, on Sunday. “He reassured me that the law will not be implemented as it stands now, the more contentious parts of the law have been taken out, and the minister of justice in Afghanistan has the obligation to rewrite the law,” Cannon told CTV Newsnet’s Power Play.
Today. Bowing to international pressure and unprecedented protests by hundreds of women on the streets of Kabul, the Afghan government promised in April to review a new law imposing severe restrictions on women in Shiite Muslim families. Last week, though, Human Rights Watch discovered that a revised version of the Shiite Personal Status Law had been quietly put into effect at the end of July — meaning that Shiite men in Afghanistan now have the legal right to starve their wives if their sexual demands are not met and that Shiite women must obtain permission from their husbands to even leave their houses, “except in extreme circumstances.”