Afghan rape victim forced to marry

2011-12-17 18:54
Kabul - She was jailed for adultery after being raped, then pardoned and set free. But now her brothers are threatening to kill her and with nowhere else to go, Gulnaz is resigned to marrying her attacker.

Gulnaz, who does not know her exact age, but is 20 or 21, spoke in a quiet voice with her blue burqa pushed up over her face. Her baby daughter, the child of her rapist, played on the floor at her feet.

"I have to marry him, I need a father for my child. I need somebody to take care of my daughter and give us a home," she said.

"I don't have any other place to live. My brothers have vowed to kill me and my attacker and my daughter."

Gulnaz was freed from prison on Tuesday, two years after she was jailed for a so-called moral crime - being raped by her cousin's husband.

Persecution

President Hamid Karzai pardoned her on December 1 following an international outcry, but even then it was almost two weeks before she was released.

And now, in ultra-conservative Afghanistan, she faces great pressure to marry the man who attacked her, to provide security for her baby and restore family honour.

Campaigners describe such persecution, all too common in Afghanistan, as a "remnant of the Taliban era" highlighting the poor state of women's rights, 10 years after the US-led invasion sought to put the country on a democratic path.

Gulnaz was jailed after reporting the rape to the police.

"I petitioned and asked the government to arrest the man, but they arrested me. Why was I put in jail innocently?" she said.

"I don't know why we have this kind of government here; they don't even care about a poor woman. I brought up the case to seek justice but I was put in jail."

Gulnaz was raising her child in a prison cell in Kabul. And although she was released, she is still confined. With fears for her safety, she has moved to a women's shelter in a secret location.

Second class citizens

Her US lawyer, Kimberley Motley, said Gulnaz was "trying to figure out the best way she can protect herself and her daughter".

But with her attacker still in jail for another five years, it will be even harder for Gulnaz to marry and move on.

"Unfortunately the culture quite often decides that even if a woman is violated or a victim the best way to find protection is to embrace their attacker and marry them," Motley said.

"Often women are treated as second class citizens and don't have a voice. The best way is to have a male figure to protect them and I think Gulnaz is wrestling with those issues."

She said by issuing the pardon, Karzai and the prosecutor's office recognised that rape victims were not to be persecuted.

"But unfortunately this is the remnant of a Taliban era which still has an influence in Afghan culture," Motley said.

There is little sign that violence against women in Afghanistan is decreasing, despite billions of dollars of international aid which has poured into the country during the decade-long war.

Attention

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.

Some 87% of Afghan women report having experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage, according to figures quoted in an October report by the British charity Oxfam.

In November, the UN 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.

Gulnaz was grateful for the attention her case has received. Others are not so lucky.

"I'm not afraid. He has accepted me, and I have also accepted him," she said.

"I want to send my daughter to school; I want her to become a doctor."
Read more on:    afghanistan
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
34 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Movies
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Newlands 18:02 PM
Road name: M3 Southbound

DELAYS approaching the Rhodes Avenue exit

Stellenbosch 18:01 PM
Road name: R304 Northbound

DELAYS towards Bottelary Road

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Social media is pulling you in and you have the desire to find out everything you know about your friends and you have the urge to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.