Imprisoned Afghan Women Deserve Due Process

His Excellency President Hamid Karzai and the Honorable President of the United States of America, Barack Obama,

I am writing to you to express my concern for the incarcerated women and children in the Republic of Afghanistan. While I respect the cultural differences of our countries, I ask that Afghan women accused of moral crimes be granted the full extent of equality and due process as mandated by international rule of law.

The Quran teaches that men and women are spiritually equal before God. Afghanistan's constitution designates the government provide education for women. By law, the Meshrano Jirga should contain 50 percent women. Most importantly, the Afghan Congress ratified the Elimination of Violence Against Women Act (EVAW) in 2009, criminalizing the traditions of forced and underage marriage, enslavement or physical and mental abuse. According to the US State Department, seventy-five percent of the Afghan women in prison are condemned for cultural practices protected from punishment by EVAW.

The rights and fate of these women and children depend upon the vigilance of the leaders of the free world as much as President Karzai. Political and diplomatic agreement is imperative in order to end this harrowing practice of gender-based injustice. The Republic of Afghanistan will never be respected as strong and independent if its women are not.