KABUL (SW): Zahra Yagana is a woman who after divorcing her husband in Herat brought her son and daughter to Kabul. She applied for a passport for her daughter recently; however, her daughter’s passport application was rejected because she did not have any documents from her husband.
Zahra told Salam Watandar that she has contacted her husband’s family to obtain a consent letter from them, but her ex-in-laws refused to cooperate. However, interestingly the officers have told her that if she couldn’t get a consent letter from her ex-husband or his family, she can bring in an electricity or utility bill from her daughter’s uncle.
Based on Article 249 of Civil Code of Afghanistan, “the term of custody of a boy at age seven and girl at age nine” terminates and after that, the children are given back to father, father’s family, and close relatives of the father.
Najla Rahil, a defense lawyer told Salam Watandar that in addition to providing the child support money, if the husband has not been able to provide all the documents such as birth certificate, passport and other related documents to his wife, he will be found guilty and will be punished by the law.
However, in Zahra’s case, it is the opposite. She was asking the question that why children are given to their father’s close relatives in the case of father’s inability to raise them while the mother is capable of raising her children? She added that fathers don’t realize what mothers are going through and the laws of the country also don’t favor women.
Zarqa Yaftaly, Director of Women’s and Children’s Rights Research Institute told Salam Watandar that women’s rights organizations have been advocating for changes in the custody and civil laws.
Zahra Yagana, who is also a women’s rights activist, said that the laws that put women at risk could only promote corruption and bribery in the society because mothers will be compelled to bribe the officers in order to receive birth certificates and other documents for their children.