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Afghan Women Protest Against Marital Law

A few hundred Afghan women held a demonstration in Kabul Wednesday to protest against a new law that they say restricts women's rights.

But those demonstrators were confronted by a larger group of male and female counter-protesters who shouted insults, threw stones and accused the women of being influenced by anti-Islamic foreign forces.

Critics say the new law, which only affects Afghanistan's Shi'ite Muslim minority, essentially legalizes marital rape by barring women from refusing sex with their husbands unless they are sick. The law also forbids women from leaving their homes without their husbands' permission.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered a review of the law after it was fiercely criticized by international organizations and Western nations, including the United States.

Although Afghanistan's constitution calls for equal rights for men and women, it also allows the Shi'ite community to have a separate family law based on religious tradition. Shi'ite Muslims make up about 20 percent of the country's population.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.