Child bride tells of 'torture' by in-laws

2011-12-31 17:30

Kabul - An Afghan child bride on 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.

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 Dalilo.

"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.

Dalilo 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's 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% 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.

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