The South Asia Channel

The women’s vote

James Dobbins, director of RAND’s International Security and Defense Policy Center and U.S. representative to Afghanistan in 2001, and Alex Thier, the senior rule of law adviser for the Rule of Law Center of Innovation at the US Institute of Peace and occasional AfPak Channel contributor, sat down for a reflective interview with America Abroad ...

James Dobbins, director of RAND’s International Security and Defense Policy Center and U.S. representative to Afghanistan in 2001, and Alex Thier, the senior rule of law adviser for the Rule of Law Center of Innovation at the US Institute of Peace and occasional AfPak Channel contributor, sat down for a reflective interview with America Abroad Media, an independent media organization that partners with Geo TV in Pakistan and Tolo TV in Afghanistan, among other outlets, to discuss the larger implications of Afghanistan’s recent presidential election.

The results of the election are slowly trickling in, but it’s too soon to tell much except that allegations of fraud and corruption are likely to cause trouble for some time. The voter turnout among women in particular was reportedly very low, even in relation to the entire voter turnout, which was less than expected.

Thier criticizes incumbent President Hamid Karzai for passing a new version of the infamous ‘rape law’ about a week before the election. The new law allows Shiite men in Afghanistan to deny their wives food if they refuse to obey their husbands’ sexual demands, among other things. "I think he clearly was willing to sacrifice some advances, or at least some of the ground in the debate on women’s rights in Afghanistan, for a fairly short term gain," Thier says.

Karzai’s decision was unfortunate, to say the least. To paraphrase Bill Gates, refusing to utilize half the population of Afghanistan is not going to help the country’s economy and security improve. Check out the rest of the interview for more analysis.

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