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Monday
May202013

Major Setback for Women's Rights in Afghanistan

Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The move to strengthen women's rights in Afghanistan took a major hit Saturday when conservative religious lawmakers blocked landmark legislation.

Khalil Ahmad Shaheedzada, a conservative member of parliament, said the measure was withdrawn when religious parties claimed it violated Islamic principles and encouraged disobedience.

Shaheedzada even went as far to say, "Whatever is against Islamic law, we don't even need to speak about it."

Had the legislation been considered and passed, it would have set a minimum age for girls to get married while ending prosecution of women who are raped.

Its advocates had hoped the bill would become law to prevent the next president of Afghanistan from rolling it back.  Now, that's a moot point.

Women are fearful that once the U.S. and their coalition allies leave Afghanistan, the country will return to the culture of the previous Taliban regime, when women were forbidden to work or attend school.

Last March during a tour of Afghanistan, Secretary of State John Kerry met with various women's groups to try and ease their concerns about a return to a time when Afghan women were treated as second-class citizens.

However, the U.S. has little say about what laws can or can't be passed by the Afghan parliament.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio