Afghan Woman Jailed For 'Adultery' Freed But With Expectation That She Marries Her Attacker
An Afghan woman who was imprisoned for "adultery" after being raped has been freed following an intervention from President Karzai.
The 21-year-old, known only as Gulnaz to protect her identity, was released from Kabul's Badam Bagh jail.
Although her release was unconditional, the victim now faces the expectation that she marry her assailant to restore her family’s honour.
Gulnaz was facing 12 years in jail following a conviction for adultery after she was sexually assaulted by her cousin at her home. Her cousin was jailed for seven years.
Following Karzia's intercession, the judge told her that she would escape a prison sentence, however Gulnaz, who had a child following the attack, then faced the prospect of marrying the rapist, an expectation borne of a society in which tradition and honour remain paramount.
Gulnaz initially refused. According to The Times she had said she would never forgive him and he should "rot in prison".
But after giving birth in prison, she has now reportedly agreed to wed her rapist so that her daughter will have a better life.
“There are hundreds of women in this situation and it is well overdue to look at the injustices done to them,” Heather Barr, Human Rights Watch’s Afghanistan researcher said.
Gulnaz's story had first been told in a film commissioned by the European Union, only for it to be banned by an EU diplomat.
The EU said it had blocked the release of the film in order to protect the identity of the women who took part. But has been accused of covering up the story so as not to offend the Afghanistan government.
According to the New York Times, the filmmakers received an email from an EU official saying they “also had to consider its relations with the justice institutions in connection with the other work that it is doing in the sector".
However Vygaudas Usackas, the European Union’s ambassador to Afghanistan said: “Not only does the EU care about women, but we have spent over 45 million euros in support of different programmes for women."
Improving women's rights has often been cited as a primary reason for Nato's ongoing mission in Afghanistan. Gulnaz's story will raise questions about how much progress has been made as Britain and the United States prepare to withdraw their troops.
In a final twist, the Times reports, Gulnaz has demanded that one of her rapists daughters marry her brother in order to prevent her from facing further abuse.