Le Monde Diplomatique, January 22, 2010
More recently, the UN has described rape in Afghanistan as a problem of “profound proportions”
By Chris Sands
Anisa, twelve, sits weeping next to her crying father. Anisa was gang-raped by five men some months back. “I want the criminals to be hung,” she says weeping.
13-year old Samia is another gang-raped victim in Sar-e-Pul province of Afghanistan.
In northern Afghanistan, far away from the Taliban’s heartland, freedom remains elusive for most women.
Forced marriages of young girls are still common and sex attacks are on the rise. Many say life has deteriorated after the US-led invasion because the occupation ushered in a new era of lawlessness.
At the offices of the Afghanistan Human Rights Organisation in Sheberghan, Jowzjan province, women from throughout the region arrive with tales of misery and horror. They go there because they do not trust the government.
Maghferat Samimi, the local head of AHRO, documents her cases in a photo album. It contains images of infant girls and boys, mug shots of rapists and a picture of a naked body burnt salmon pink around the breasts.
“It’s getting worse because there is no law. There are rules, but no one is following them,” she said.
“People were 100 per cent happier under the Taliban. Okay, there was some fighting and people were poor, but they accepted the law.”
Samimi was speaking in the early summer of 2009. Since then, the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai has been accused of officially sanctioning rape.
In a bid to help his re-election campaign, he passed legislation for the Shia community that allows a man to withhold food from his wife if she refuses his sexual demands and states that a woman must get her husband’s permission to work.
More recently, the UN has described rape in Afghanistan as a problem of “profound proportions”.
It is a reality at odds with the political rhetoric. In his 2002 State of the Union address, George W. Bush declared an end to all this suffering.
“The last time we met in this chamber, the mothers and daughters of Afghanistan were captives in their own homes, forbidden from working or going to school,” he said.
“Today women are free.”
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