The following is excerpted from an article in The Times Online; I have omitted the sections not directly pertaining to what’s in the law. You can also Google “Afghan rape law” for many more articles on the topic. The story is so outrageous that I had to make sure it was real before passing it on. With articles everywhere form the BBC on down, I feel sure it is.

Afghanistan’s President Karzai has approved a law that critics say condones marital rape, opening a rift in the international community as it debates how best to respond without disrupting Thursday’s presidential election.

The schism emerged when donor countries met to discuss the law after learning it had come into effect late in July despite condemnation of an earlier draft by Western leaders including President Obama and Gordon Brown. Canada and several European countries favour making a strong public protest over the Shia Personal Status Law which, among other things, permits Shia men to refuse to give food to their wives if they do not have sex with them.

The legislation is meant to govern family law for Afghanistan’s Shia Muslim minority, which makes up about 15 per cent of the population of about 30 million.

Mr Karzai first approved the law earlier this year but was forced to review it after Western leaders and Afghan women’s rights groups protested over provisions that they said were reminiscent of Taleban rule. Mr Obama called the law “abhorrent”.

Women’s rights advocates say the amended version does include some improvements, but dismiss most of the changes as window-dressing that does little to address their main concerns.

“This law is not according to the Afghan constitution,” she told The Times. “I’m going to request the donor countries to take action over this.”

The new draft of the law grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers, and requires women to get permission from their husbands to work, according to HRW. It also in effect enables a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying ‘blood money’, HRW says.

There are several different translations of the law being circulated. But the amended version is understood to have removed an article stipulating that a man has the right to demand sex from his wife, or wives, a certain number of times a week.

It is also believed to have changed the wording of the article that allows a man to deny his wife “maintenance” if she refuses his sexual demands. Instead, it says, he can refuse to maintain her if she does not perform her conjugal duties according to Sharia.