Afghan teen says she wants her tormentors to face justice

Afghan teen says she wants her tormentors to face justice
Kabul:  A week after Sahar Gul, 15, was rescued from the house of her husband's parents, where she was tortured for months, she is demanding justice. She wants to see her husband and in-laws behind bars. Gul's in-laws kept her in a basement for six months and tortured her with hot irons.

"I want my husband, sister-in-law and father-in-law to be in jail... They gave me electric shocks...They beat me with cables and tortured me," she said, speaking at the Wazir Akbar Khan hospital in Kabul, where she was being treated for her horrific injuries.

Gul's bruised and bloodied face has become the symbol of the pitiful state of women's rights in Afghanistan.

The teenage bride's eyes were swollen nearly shut as she was wheeled into the hospital last week, just seven months after her arranged marriage. Black scabs crusted her fingertips where her nails used to be.

According to officials in northeastern Baghlan province, Gul's in-laws tortured her, reportedly in an attempt to force her into prostitution. Police freed her after her uncle called authorities.

The horrific images, captured by television news cameras last week, transfixed Afghanistan and set off a storm of condemnation.

President Hamid Karzai set up a commission to investigate the case. Authorities arrested her in-laws, who deny abusing her, and issued a warrant for her husband, who serves in the Afghan army.

The case highlights the ongoing problems for women in Afghanistan 10 years after the Taliban's fall. Gul's wounds and the fact that she was married off so young are a reminder that abuse of girls and women is still widespread.

Doctor Feriba Omarzada said Gul was recovering from her wounds, but was still suffering psychologically.
"She has recovered about 30 to 40 percent, her wounds on her legs and hands are recovering, she only has some mental problems now, other than that she is getting better day by day," said the doctor.

Ending abuse of women is a huge challenge in a patriarchal society where traditional practices include child marriage, and giving girls away to settle debts or to pay for relatives' crimes.

So-called honour killings are also still common, when girls, accused of disgracing their families, are murdered by their relatives.

Gul will remain under the care of the hospital's doctors, after being transferred from a regional hospital in Baghlan province, until she is fully recovered.
 
 
Story First Published: January 08, 2012 09:38 IST

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