27 Jan 2011

UN report says child brides, forced marriage, slavery, extreme violence against women widespread in Afghanistan

The Guardian - UK December 9, 2010

Afghan women still suffer horrendous abuse, says United Nations report

Report shows that forced marriages, 'honour' killings and women resorting to self-immolation still prevalent

by Jon Boone in Kabul

Bibi Aisha, the Afghan girl whose nose and ears were cut off by her husband, was a "lucky victim" because she survived her attack and got help, a top human rights official in the country said yesterday.

While Aisha escaped her abusive family, the deputy chairman of the country's Independent Human Rights Commission said that many women in similar circumstances were less lucky. "For sure, we have hundreds of Bibi Aishas in Afghanistan," said Ahmad Fahim Hakim.

His remarks came after the news that one of the men responsible for attacking Aisha had been arrested, a development hailed by human rights workers as a sign the Afghan authorities are starting to take deep-rooted abuse of women seriously. [SEE ARTICLE BELOW]

Hakim was speaking during the publication of a major UN report that showed that, despite improvements in women's rights – long touted as a major goal of the US-led intervention in Afghanistan – the country is still blighted by forced marriages, the giving away of infant girls to future husbands to settle disputes, 'honour' killings and desperate women resorting to death by self-immolation.

The report by the UN's Afghanistan mission said that such practices are problem in all communities and cause "suffering, humiliation and marginalisation for millions of Afghan women and girls".

Despite recent efforts to toughen laws designed to protect women, the government does little to combat abuses. For example, the law on elimination of violence against women, which was regarded by rights activists as a major step forward when it came into effect in August last year, is not being enforced in many rural areas, where officials have not even heard of it, the report said.

One long-observed tradition covered by the report is the concept of baad, where a young girl will be given in marriage to settle disputes between families.

"Many of the women told us that, instead of the murderer being punished, an innocent girl is punished and has to spend her life in slavery and subject to cruel violence," said Georgette Gagnon, the UN's director of human rights in Kabul.

The head of Afghanistan's only specialist burns unit is quoted saying that forced marriages are the main cause of women who try to kill themselves by setting themselves on fire.

According to figures quoted in the report, in 57% of Afghan marriages one of the partners is younger than 16.




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The Guardian - UK December 8, 2010

Father of mutilated Afghan girl fears attackers will escape law

Captured father-in-law could evade justice despite allegedly helping relatives to cut off girl's nose and ears

by Jon Boone in Kabul

The father of an Afghan girl whose nose and ears were sliced off by her relatives, says he fears the culprits will never be brought to justice despite the arrest of the main accomplice.

Mohammadzai, the father of Bibi Aisha, whose mutilated face shocked the world when she was featured on the front cover of Time magazine, said he welcomed the fact that his daughter's father-in-law had been captured, but worried that the man could be released illegally.

"I want the hardest punishment that the law of Afghanistan has, but he is from a big family and he has money," he said. "It is just a matter of knowing the right person in Uruzgan and you can get out of prison."

Afghanistan's courts and police force are notoriously corrupt and open to bribes. Even when convictions are successful the government has pardoned well-connected drug traffickers and, in one case, a group of three gang rapists.

Local officials have also expressed doubt about the chances of the family of Aisha, who is now 20, winning such a case, which in the conservative southern province of Uruzgan, where the crime happened, has not attracted the same outrage as it has around the world.

Today, neither the police nor the provincial attorney general were able to say if, or when, the case would go to trial.

Mohammadzai was speaking after it emerged that one of the prime suspects was arrested almost two weeks ago after he emerged from the Taliban controlled village, where he had been hiding, to go to a nearby market.

The father-in-law of Aisha, Haji Mullah Sulaiman, is said to have helped restrain her while family members, including her husband, Qudratullah, cut off her nose and ears, as a punishment for her running away. Two other relatives, in addition to Sulaiman and his son, are also suspects in the case.

When confronted by police, Sulaiman attempted to flee but was successfully arrested after shots were fired in the air near a house he had bolted into.

Mohammadzai said Sulaiman had been in hiding in Pakistan immediately after the attack on Aisha but that he had returned to his home district in the southern province of Uruzgan sometime in the last month.

Qudratullah, Aisha's teenage husband, is believed to be still hiding in the Pakistani city of Quetta.

Uruzgan's police chief, Juma Gul Hemat, confirmed the arrest and claimed that Sulaiman had accepted responsibility for the crime. Hemat said Sulaiman had told him that his family had become angry with Aisha after she criticised her new marital home and spent too much time in her father's house.

Controversy has surrounded the use of the harrowing photograph of Aisha by Time to illustrate the brutality of the Taliban who, Aisha says, convened a special "court" to authorise the punishment of her after she fled, at the age of 18, from her abusive in-laws.

The Taliban have denied the claim and condemned the incident as "barbaric". Although the Taliban try to protect themselves from bad publicity, some observers see the case as a purely domestic dispute mixed up with a particularly ugly version of justice that has been meted out in rural Afghanistan for centuries.

Mohammadzai insisted that the maiming of his daughter was a heinous crime "condemned by everyone in Afghanistan", but he has reportedly had to go into hiding because the local community has refused to support him.

To add further confusion, Sulaiman told the BBC yesterday that it was Aisha's own family who proposed the punishment. "I am innocent," he said. "Aisha's father is accusing me. He had proposed to me to kill her because she had brought shame on him after she fled her house."

After a local BBC reporter interviewed him in his prison cell, authorities refused all other requests to speak to him.

Aisha went to California for reconstructive surgery and to be fitted with a prosthetic nose. She is expected to remain there for months to come.

This article was found at:



Afghan girls have educational dreams and goals but few are free to pursue them despite constitutional rights

Afghanistan's child 'brides' face life of violence, some suicides by fire are actually disguised murders 

Afghan child 'bride' brutally abused and mutilated by Taliban 'husband' gets new face in U.S.

Afghan teen who had nose and ears cut off by order of Taliban court is in U.S. for reconstructive surgery

Women's rights 'in decline' in Afghanistan eight years after fall of the Taliban

The Afghan women [and girls] jailed for being victims of rape

Afghanistan passes controversial law allowing rapists to avoid prosecution by paying 'blood money' to victims

Revised Afghan marriage law still allows child brides and violence towards women

Some Afghan women want West to back off 'rape law'

Top Afghan cleric defends marriage law

Afghan Women Slowly Gaining Protection

Afghanistan's Girl Gap

Taliban continues to terrorize Afghan school girls to protect their "purity and innocence"  

Education of girls crucial first step in fighting religious extremism

Afghan schoolgirls burned by acid in attack by men on motorcycle

10 arrested in Taliban-ordered acid attack on Afghan schoolgirls

Afghan girl says acid attack won't stop her lessons

Afghan Schoolgirls Undeterred by Attack

Afghan authorities probe another possible schoolgirl poisoning

Islamist extremists fear educated girls, blow up hundreds of schools in Pakistan

1 comment:

  1. Afghan child bride tells of 'torture' by in-laws


    KABUL - An Afghan child bride Saturday spoke of how she was tortured by her mother-in-law who locked her in a toilet for six months, beat her, pulled out her fingernails and burned her with cigarettes.

    Sahar Gul, 15, is recovering in hospital in Kabul, her face bruised and swollen, her skin still bearing the marks of her ordeal, barely able to speak.

    Police have said she was locked up when she defied her in-laws who tried to force her into prostitution. Her brother had sold her to her husband about seven months ago for $5,000.

    "For several months I was locked up in toilet by my in-laws and particularly my mother-in-law," she managed to tell media in a frail voice during a visit from Afghan health minister Dr Suraya Dalil.

    "I was denied food and water. I was tortured and beaten."

    The minister said it was an example of "increased cases of violence against women in Afghanistan".

    Women continue to suffer in Afghanistan despite billions of dollars of international aid which has poured into the country during the decade-long war.

    Dalil said Gul was suffering from severe blood loss, with multiple burns and injuries.

    "She is also suffering from trauma and psychological problems," she said.

    "She is still a child, below the legal age of marriage. She is only 15 and from a remote part of the country. It's a tragic and heartbreaking story for Afghanistan."

    The teenager was found in the basement of her husband's house in the northeastern Baghlan province late on Monday.

    Her family, from the neighbouring province of Badakhshan, had reported her disappearance to the police after being denied access to the home.

    Three women including the girls' mother-in-law were arrested over the case but her husband fled.

    The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission logged 1,026 cases of violence against women in the second quarter of 2011 compared with 2,700 cases for the whole of 2010.

    And according to figures in an Oxfam report in October, 87 percent of Afghan women report having experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage.

    Gul's case comes after a woman known as Gulnaz was pardoned and released earlier in December after spending two years in prison for "moral crimes."

    She was jailed after she reported to police that her cousin's husband had raped her. Gulnaz gave birth to the rapist's child in prison.

    In November, the United Nations said that a landmark law aiming to protect women against violence in Afghanistan had been used to prosecute just over 100 cases since being enacted two years ago.