Tortured Afghan Girl to Receive Medical Care in India
Used for illustrative purposes.
A 15-year-old Afghani girl, who was locked in a toilet and tortured by her in-laws in the north of the country is being transferred to India for medical treatment, Afghanistan government officials said on Monday.
Sahar Gul was kept in the toilet and abused for 6 months in teh northern province of Baghlan, the presidential palace said late on Sunday.
Afghan authorities said Monday they will send a teenager who was tortured and kept in a toilet for six months to India for medical treatment.
Her health condition was improving, but the government “will take her to India for medical treatment,” Interior Ministry spokesman Seddiq Seddiqi said on Monday, in comments published by dpa.
“We have already arrested Sahar Gul’s mother-in-law and sister-in-law,” Seddiqi said. “We are taking this issue of violence against an innocent woman seriously.”
Her father-in-law and husband were still on the run. The minimum age for marriage in Afghanistan is 16 for women, and 18 for men.
The young girl was discovered by Afghan police on December 26 after her uncle reported her mistreatment.
Her husband’s family had tortured her because she refused to prostitute herself, police said. Her fingernails had been pulled out, and she had several burns, apparently from an iron and cigarettes, they said.
President Hamid Karzai announced an investigation into the case late Saturday.
Activists and international observers have repeatedly raised concerns over the state of women’s rights in Afghanistan.
Almost a third of Afghan women are exposed to physical or psychological violence at some point and an estimated 25 percent are victims of sexual violence, according to the United Nations.
Legislation to protect women has been poorly implemented, and many incidents still go unreported, a UN report said in November.
Between March 2010 and March 2011, 2,299 incidents of violence against women were registered at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. But prosecutors opened only a quarter of those cases, and filed indictments in only 7 percent, the report said.
In November, gunmen threw acid in the faces of three girls and their parents in Kunduz province, just north of Baghlan, after the family refused to marry their eldest daughter to a local warlord.
In early December, an Afghani woman who was jailed after being raped, was freed from imprisonment after President Hamid Karzai pardoned her upon the victim’s agreeing to marry her attacker.
The news sparked an international outcry against the treatment of women in Afghanistan.
According to a government statement, the woman, Gulnaz, gave birth in prison to a daughter and was only allowed to be freed after she agreed, reluctantly, to marry the rapist.
According to the lawyer, Gulnaz had hoped to be freed from jail and not be forced to marry her attacker. Human rights organizations inside and outside the country have reported hundreds of women are currently languishing in Afghan jails after being raped.
“In my conversations with Gulnaz she told me that if she had the free choice she would not marry the man who raped her,” said Kimberley Motley, the woman’s lawyer, told BBC.
Motley did add that Gulnaz’s release was not conditional on her marrying the rapist.
Gulnaz said that after she was raped she was charged with adultery.
“At first my sentence was two years,” she said. “When I appealed it became 12 years. I didn’t do anything. Why should I be sentenced for so long?”
In the latest appeal, it was reduced to three years.
The presidential palace’s statement made note of the concept of rape in its public declaration freeing the woman.
It said a meeting of the judiciary committee had “discussed the issue of rape… and the issue of her imprisonment.”
“As the both sides [Gulnaz and the rapist] have agreed to get married to each other with conditions, respective authorities were tasked to take action upon it according to Islamic Shariah [law],” it said.
“The president ordered the office of administrative affairs and the secretariat of the council of ministers to make the decree of Gulnaz’s release.”
But women’s rights activists and groups have cried foul, saying the simple fact that the woman was imprisoned in the first place is wrong and defies logic.
“How could this woman be charged with any crime, unless Afghanistan and its conservative government are again returning to the ways we were forced to live under the Taliban,” said the female assistant to a high-ranking official in the country, speaking to Bikyamasr.com on condition of anonymity. “I guess being a woman in this country is still a crime.”
By Sharifa Ghanem