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 Afghanistan: Widows denied right to re-marry
 Aviva, UK
 May 26, 2005

In a country full of young widows due to 25 years of war and the loss of men this problem has become acute. According to tradition, they can only marry close relatives of the deceased husband, even though 6 years ago, during the Taleban's ultra-conservative reign, its leader Mullah Omar issued a decree allowing widows to marry whomever they wished.

Since the fall of the Taleban, a little over 3 years ago, the temporary freedom of choice accorded them has eroded, leaving a woman who has lost her husband very little choice about her future. If she is allowed to marry again, it will be to her brother-in-law or another close relative in her husband's family.

Fauzia Amini of the Women's Affairs Ministry says, "The custom of forcing a widow to marry her brother-in-law or another close relative of her dead husband is very bad; we are trying to break the hold these traditions have on the population." The ministry is working with mullahs, or religious leaders, to try and get more freedom of choice for women whose husbands have died. Islam does not dictate that woman must marry within her husband's family, say religious scholars, such as Shaikh Zada, a mullah from Kabul province. "Islam allows widows to marry relatives or non-relatives alike, provided that the person she marries, is Muslim," he said.

From Aviva, May 26, 2005. Aviva is a free webzine run by a group of feminists based in London.