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Afghan Lawmakers Halt Debate On Women's Rights Law

Schoolgirls talk with 17-year-old Shamsia, who was the victim of an acid attack in Afghanistan in 2008, as she rests on a hospital bed in Kabul.
Lawmakers in the Afghan parliament have halted a debate on a law aimed at preventing violence against women.

Just minutes into the debate on May 18, the parliament’s speaker ended proceedings amid strong opposition from legislators who called the law un-Islamic.

The Law on the Elimination of Violence against Women is an effort to protect women from rape, forced marriage, and the trading of women to settle disputes.

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Female lawmakers wanted to cement the law -- passed by a presidential decree in 2009 -- through a parliamentary vote.

The decision to seek parliamentary approval for the law had divided women activists.

Opponents of the move feared the debate could give the upper hand to hard-liners and weaken the current legislation.

The debate’s failure has highlighted the fragility of women's rights in Afghanistan, one of the world’s most conservative countries.

Based on reporting by BBC and AP