Global Post, November 10, 2011

EU bans its own film on Afghan women in jail

The European Union has banned a film, which it commissioned, about Afghan women in prison for "moral crimes".

The European Union has banned a film that it commissioned about Afghan women in prison for "moral crimes".

The decision to block the release has led to row between the EU, the film-makers and human rights activists, the ABC reported.

The documentary, called In-Justice, was reportedly withdrawn because of concerns for the safety of the women it portrayed.

It is the story of Gulnaz, a 19-year-old Afghan woman who was charged with adultery and sentenced to 12 years in prison after she was raped, and fell pregnant. Gulnaz's infant daughter accompanied her to the Kabul jail.

Gulnaz said in the documentary:

"At first my sentence was two years. When I appealed it became 12 years. I didn't do anything. Why should I be sentenced for so long?"

In a statement, the EU's Kabul delegation said it blocked the release of the film over concern for Gulnaz’s safety, the BBC reported, adding that half of Afghanistan's women prisoners have been convicted of moral crimes, known as "zina".

Rights activists argue that injustice in the Afghan judicial system needs to be exposed, and that hundreds of women prisoners are victims of domestic violence.

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According to a prison official, Gulnaz's name was put on a list of women to be pardoned when, after 18 months of resisting, she finally agreed to marry the man who raped her, the BBC reported.

It is not known when, or if, Gulnaz will be released.

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