AN Afghan bill allowing a husband to starve his wife if she refuses to have sex has been published in the official gazette and become law, reported BBC. The original bill caused outrage earlier this year, forcing Afghan President Hamid Karzai to withdraw it. But critics say the amended version of the law remains highly repressive. They accuse Karzai of selling out Afghan women for the sake of conservative Shia support at next weeks presidential election. The law governs family life for Afghanistans Shia minority. Western leaders and Afghan womens groups were united in condemning an apparent reversal of key freedoms won by women after the fall of the Taliban. Now an amended version of the same bill has passed quietly into law with the apparent approval of President Karzai. Just ahead of this Thursdays Afghan presidential election, human rights groups suggest the timing is no accident. There was a review process - Karzai came under huge pressure from all over the world to amend this law, but many of the most oppressive laws remain, Rachel Reid, the Human Rights Watch representative in Kabul, told the BBC. Womens groups say its new wording still violates the principle of equality that is enshrined in their constitution. It allows a man to withhold food from his wife if she refuses his 'demands; a woman must get her husbands permission to work; and fathers and grandfathers are given exclusive custody of children.