Sahar Gul, 15-years old was locked up in the basement of her in-laws’ house in the northeastern Baghlan province and was beat, starved and burned. Law enforcement officers rescued the child after her parents reported her missing because they weren’t able to contact her since her marriage, seven months ago. Her parents live in the neighboring province of Badakhshan.
Sahar Gul’s brother had sold her to her husband for $5,000. Police officers believe that she may have been punished for refusing to be forced into prostitution by her in-laws.
She managed to tell media in a visit from Afghan health minister Dr Suraya Dalil, “For several months I was locked up in toilet by my in-laws and particularly my mother-in-law. I was denied food and water. I was tortured and beaten.”
District police chief Fazel Rahman told AFP, “She was beaten, her fingernails were removed, clumps of her hair pulled out, as well as chunks of flesh cut out with pliers and her arm was broken. She was taken to hospital suffering severe shock.”
Dr Dalil said, “The child is suffering from severe blood loss, with multiple burns and injuries. She is also suffering from trauma and psychological problems. 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.”
Three women were arrested, including Sahar Gul’s mother-in-law, but her husband fled the scene.
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission has a log of 1026 cases of violence against women in the last half of 2011 compared with 2765 cases in total for the whole year of 2010. A report in October from Oxfam said 87 percent of Afghan women reported having experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage.
In November, the United Nations said that a landmark law is aiming to protect women against violence in Afghanistan had been used to prosecute just over 100 cases since being enacted two years ago. That’s a good start to help protect these women from domestic violence.