True Sharia Law Protects Women WITHVOICEOVER
Independent Films, Politics, Documentaries
The Provincial Council, a group of elected officials, work tirelessly to bring dispute-settlement services to remote villages that would otherwise either wait for years for the Afghan government to help or turn to the Taliban. The Provincial Council looks out for women by arguing that the original Sharia Law of the Koran provided for women, contrary to the oppressive interpretation of the Taliban.
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Transcripts / Production notes / Scripts
The village of Sherbal was on the verge of a blood feud over a marriage engagement gone wrong. They called in the only person they thought could help: Iqbal Razda.
The daughter of this man, claiming she didn't like her fiance, ran away to Kabul with another young man.
NAT SOUND of meeting
Engagement is a big deal in Afghanistan. It's almost as formally binding as the marriage.
“Fortunately it was resolved because people would have killed each other.”
Iqbal belongs to the Provincial Council, an elected group that handles civil disputes and other matters in the traditional way of a sit-down meeting, known as a shura or jirga.
NAT SOUND talking
They adhere to national law but they also adhere to Islam's Sharia Law. This is infinitely better, the villagers say, than taking the problem to Bamiyan's government.
“If you have a case and take it to the government it could take years to solve. But a jirga like this will solve it in ten to fifteen days.”
Iqbal said that the greatest challenge was convincing the family of the boy to release the daughter from the engagement. Iqbal made the following successful argument: Since the girl didn't have a say in the original pairing, the engagement wasn't entirely proper.
“The problem is that the family didn't ask the girl.”
“According to Sharia Law we have to ask the boy and girl before the marriage. No one should get married by force.”
This argument made by Iqbal, and its eventual acceptance by the offended family, is of giant significance because it flies in the face of the interpretation of Sharia Law enforced by the Taliban, which offers no such concessions to women and what they want.
SOT Girl's Father
“The best interest of my daughter was considered in the decision.”
The people in this village, Shia Moslems, (not the more conservative Sunnis of the Taliban) claim that the true original Sharia law provides rights to everyone, including women.
“The Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, respected the rights of women.”
In fact, the elder at this meeting claimed that Islam, not the West, was the first to get it right:
“Human rights for everyone has always been a part of Islam, historically Westerners had to learn human rights from Islam!”
Without groups like the Provincial Council there will be a vacuum of governance and dispute-settling in rural villages, and this will be filled by the Taliban. In the village of Gandak, just over this hill, Taliban have control, and they run their own version of Sharia law, and women don't fare so well. We had to leave the meeting in the early afternoon to avoid their usual kidnapping hours on the road back to the capital.
Jeff Holden in Bamiyan Province, for the Nato Channel, with special thanks to Duncan Wilson and Yuichi Tanada of the United Nations Development Program.
Year of Production: 2012
Country: United States