[JURIST] The Taliban [JURIST news archive] have claimed responsibility for the Sunday killing of Sitara Achakzai, a women's rights advocate in Afghanistan [JURIST news archive] and a member of Kandahar's provincial assembly. Achakzai, who had returned to Afghanistan to pursue women's rights after living in Germany during the Taliban's rule, was shot outside her Kandahar home [AP report] after being approached by gunmen on motorcycles. The killing [Kuwait News Agency report] comes in the midst of controversy over the Afghan central government's Shi'ite Personal Status Law [JURIST news archive], which reportedly requires a woman to seek her husband's permission before leaving the house and effectively condones rape within a marriage. The text of that law has not been officially published.
Last week, Mohammad Asif Mohseni, a key Shi'ite cleric, defended the status law [JURIST report] and characterized Western criticism of it as interference with Afghan democracy. President Hamid Karzai signed the measure into law in March – reportedly as a conciliatory measure towards the Taliban – then called for its review [JURIST reports] under mounting international pressure.