Raped Afghan woman still in jail
Kabul - An Afghan woman who was jailed for adultery after being raped remains in prison more than 10 days after President Hamid Karzai ordered her release, her lawyer said on Monday.
Gulnaz, who has already served two years in prison after a relative raped her at her home, should have been released within 48 hours and there was "no good reason" for her to remain behind bars, Kimberley Motley said.
Her case highlights the poor state of women's rights in Afghanistan, 10 years after a US-led invasion ousted the Taliban who were notorious for their harsh laws against women.
Following an outcry over her situation, Karzai called a meeting where judicial officials decided to pardon her, presidential spokesperson Aimal Faizi told AFP on December 1.
Still visited by attacker’s father
But the officials also advised that Gulnaz should marry the man who attacked her, due to fears she could be in danger if released because of the stigma surrounding her attack in ultra-conservative Afghanistan.
Motley said there were no conditions set on Gulnaz's release and she would need time to decide what to do. But she also voiced concern that her client was being visited in jail by her attacker's father.
"She's still locked up and there's no good reason for it," Motley said.
"Since the president has announced that he is going to issue a pardon she continues to be visited by the attacker's father.
"That's not appropriate. It's very disturbing. He's not a blood relative."
Gulnaz has been raising the child she had with her attacker in a prison cell in Kabul.
"She's anxious to leave and to be free. She's anxious to know what's going on," Motley said. "She was told by the committee she would be released within two days."
Officials said the order had been sent to the ministry of justice but was being processed through various offices.
"We have already sent out the pardon letter. It does take a while until the cycle and process is finished," a presidential spokesperson said.
"We have not officially received the pardon order, but we know it is on its way," ministry of justice spokesperson Farid Ahmad Najeebi said.
Women abuse increasing
"It takes a while until it reaches us because it has to go to the president's public affairs department, and several other offices before it reaches us. But we are expecting it soon."
Violence against women in Afghanistan appears to be increasing rather than decreasing, despite billions of dollars of international aid which has poured into the country during the decade-long war.
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 charity Oxfam.
Last month, the United Nations said that a landmark law aiming to protect women against violence in Afghanistan had only been used to prosecute just over 100 cases since being enacted two years ago.