Page last updated at 21:00 GMT, Wednesday, 8 July 2009 22:00 UK

Afghan 'anti-woman law changed'

Afghan women in Kabul, 7 July
The law only applies to Afghanistan's Shia minority

The Afghan government says it has changed a planned law which critics had said legalised rape within marriage.

It has removed an article which said a woman had to make herself available for sex with her husband when he desired.

Justice Minister Sarwar Danesh said the changes had been made following complaints by human-rights groups.

The legislation is aimed at the Shia minority which has its own sets of laws as part of efforts to preserve its identity in a mainly Sunni country.

An article which placed restrictions on a woman's freedom of movement has also been dropped, the BBC's Martin Vennard reports.

President Hamid Karzai originally signed the law but ordered a review after widespread international criticism.

It had been criticised by US President Barack Obama, the UN and Nato Ceretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who said it went against the values of his troops.

Aides to President Karzai insist that the law in fact provides more protection for women.

It covers members of Afghanistan's Shia minority, who make up 10% of the population.

A separate family law for the Sunni majority is also being drawn up.

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