Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Afghan Girl Tortured

The Afghan girl’s nails had been pulled out, her skin on her ear and nose had been twisted with pliers, and she had been kept in a dark, filthy basement bathroom without proper food or water for five months by her husband’s family for refusing to go into prostitution, Afghan government officials said.

But she was finally released by the local police in Baghlan Province, in northeastern Afghanistan, last week and will be sent to India for further medical treatment, the Afghan Interior Ministry said on Monday.

The case of the young girl, Sahar Gul, 15, has caused something of a sensation in Afghanistan, underscoring the unfinished business of advancing women’s rights here.

Her mother-in-law and her sister-in-law were arrested last week, officials said. Her father-in-law was arrested on Monday evening, according to Rahima Zarifi, the provincial director of women’s affairs in Baghlan.

The police are still searching for her husband, Ghulam Sakhi, 30, a soldier in the Afghan National Army who served in Helmand Province, the Interior Ministry said. He had fled, officials said.

President Hamid Karzai spoke out about the girl’s plight in a statement on Sunday, saying that the case had to be pursued and that the people responsible should be arrested. The swift official response may show a new willingness to help the plight of young women in this poor country, but it also highlights the suffering that officials say is still common.

Her mistreatment began after she was married six months ago, when she was 14. The girl, from Badakhshan Province, and her husband did not know each other well, Ms. Zarifi said.

When her new in-laws tried to force her into prostitution, she refused, and they locked her in a downstairs bathroom in their home in Dahiney Ghuri in Pul-i-Kumri, the capital of Baghlan Province, Interior Ministry and provincial officials said. They would not let her call her family, and denied her food. They also beat her with a rod, officials said.

She was released after her mother traveled to Baghlan and her uncle alerted the local police, who forced open the door to the room where she was being kept.

Munshi Abdul Majid, governor of Baghlan, said the search was continuing for the husband and for others responsible for the girl’s abuse. “This is an un-Islamic and inhuman act,” he said.