Lesson Plans - Law

Making Good Laws

"An Afgan Woman's Rights"

Lesson Plan:

GRADE(S): 9 - 12


class involvement in evaluating rules and laws; three activities: working with the law; exceptions to the law; re-writing the law

Afgan women image credit "An Afgan Woman's Rights"
About 300 Afghan women, facing an angry throng three times larger than their own, walked the streets of the capital on Wednesday to demand that Parliament repeal a new law that introduces a range of Taliban-like restrictions on women, and permits, among other things, marital rape.
"Whenever a man wants sex, we cannot refuse," said Fatima Husseini, 26, one of the marchers. "It means a woman is a kind of property, to be used by the man in any way that he wants."
One provision makes it illegal for a woman to resist her husband's sexual advances. A second provision requires a husband's permission for a woman to work outside the home or go to school. And a third makes it illegal for a woman to refuse to "make herself up" or "dress up" if that is what her husband wants.
The cleric, Mohammed Hussein Jafaari, (answered) "This law was approved by the scholars. It was passed by both houses of Parliament. It was signed by the president."
He said it was between professionals and nonprofessionals; that is, between the clerics, who understood the Koran and Islamic law, and the women calling for the law's repeal who did not.
The religious scholars, Mr. Jafaari conceded, were all men.
Mr. Jafaari said that what was really driving the dispute was the foreigners who loomed so large over the country.
"We Afghans don't want a bunch of NATO commanders and foreign ministers telling us what to do." The full New York Times article - By Dexter Filkins

Activity A  Students decide:

1. The students in pairs are asked to decide if a law approved by the scholars, passed by both houses of Parliament and signed by the president makes it a "good law."
2. Have the class as a group discuss their decisions, the reasoning behind their decisions, and the problems they encountered in making their decisions.
3. Have the class develop a list of criteria for good rules or laws.
Activity B:  Discussion:

1. Have the students in pairs, or groups of three, discuss if the claim by the cleric. Mohammed Hussein Jafaari, that it is foreigners making the dispute in the country.
2. Have the class as a group discuss their decisions, and the factors they considered before arriving at their decisions.
3. Have the class decide what specific steps could be done to add stability and reliability to the law, courts, and government of Afganistan.

40 minutes (1 period) or could be spread over two periods

LANGUAGE: English (can easily be adapted to the language of the classroom)

AUTHOR: Keerock Rook, The Learning Foundation


At the end of this lesson, students should be able to...
• identify characteristics of good rules or laws
• draft a good law


small group discussion, followed by summation for class discussion

The best foundation for the exploration of rules and laws is the examination of what makes a good rule or law. With that understanding in hand, other lessons in law may explore how and why rules are made, and who has the authority to make them.

Examining what brings "goodness" to laws allows students to identify characteristics of successful rules and laws.
In order to get into this subject, we begin with some "givens":

• that some people have the authority to make laws;
• and that laws are made to help keep order and protect people in society.
(These issues can be explored in more detail in other lessons, but for the purposes of this lesson, we begin with these two understandings.)

We assume, therefore, that parents, teachers, principals, and public officials have the right to make rules and laws.
Adults, however, are not the only people who make rules.
Many rules are made in schoolyards, especially when groups of children are playing games.

Good rules are not easy to make and this lesson explores the characteristics of good rules.

The following criteria are adapted from Lawmaking, by Linda Riekes and Sally Mahe Ackerly, 2nd edition. St. Paul: West Publishing, 1980.

• Good rules are fair.
• Good rules can be followed (that is, are within societal values).
• Good rules state the penalty for disobeying.
• Good rules can be enforced. It is possible to prevent anyone from breaking the law; and it is possible to witness anyone breaking the law and to make them pay the penalty.
• A good rule indicates who is expected to obey it, whether individuals or groups.
• A good rule is in keeping with other laws. Obeying one law should not put us in the position of disobeying another.
• Good rules have no vague or ambiguous words. The best rules are written in plain English.
• A good rule defines any word that might be misunderstood either because it could have more than one meaning, or because it is an uncommon word.

In order to appreciate these criteria, students are given a sample law(s) to discuss.

• First, they are asked to be judge of behaviours in light of a particular law(s).
In the discussion following their decision, they should explore the problems they encountered in enforcing the law.
• The students, through this discussion, create a list of criteria for good laws or rules (similar to those listed above).
• In a second activity, returning to the original law(s), students deal with exceptions to the law. Situations apparently in conflict with the law are discussed in small groups and once again the students are asked to judge each situation, examine the process of arriving at their decision, and determine how to enforce the law as it stands.
• In light of this discussion, in the third activity students are asked to rewrite the law and the public notices for this particular law.
• With a revised law in hand, students re-examine the list of criteria for a good rule or law and determine their success in re-writing the law.
Write on the board: Are women equal to men under the law?

A) End class discussion with the question "What makes a good human rights law"

Student answers should include:
• can be enforced;
• can be followed (that is, is within societal values);
• is fair;
• indicates who is expected to obey it;
• states the penalty for disobeying;
• is in keeping with other laws (that is, doesn't contradict other laws);
• has no vague or ambiguous words;
• defines words that might be misunderstood.

B) Writing assigment based on this statement: "NATO commanders and foreign ministers involved in Afganistan have a right (or no right) to speak out about these laws."

• Students can also do research on the legislative process at the Canadian Parliamentary Internet/parlementaire website. More lessons at: LFS Law and Society Lessons.

""An Afgan Woman's Rights"" - is based on "Working with Rules and Laws" from the Canada School Net simplified mock trial design.

2004 - 2012 The Learning Foundation - LFS Program in Asia