Killid Group, November 26, 2012

Sharp rise in crimes against women

Latifa Sultani, women's rights programme coordinator at AIHRC, says 3,300 cases of violence against women have been registered from January to June this year compared to 2,700 cases over the same period last year

By Kreshma Fakhri

On Oct 12, three people were arrested in the murder of a woman, Mah Gul, at her home in Shalbafan Village, Injil district, Herat. The woman's head had been cut off.

The police arrested her husband, mother- and father-in-law and a person who assisted in the crime. The dead woman's brother,who took her body to the office of the Women's Affairs Department in Herat City, says she was killed by her husband and his family.

Mahboba Jamshidi, the head of the Women's Affairs Department, confirmed the woman's brother, Abdul Qader, brought her body. "We saw the jugular vein had been slashed. She had died due to excessive bleeding," she told Killid.

With the department's intervention the case was handed over to the office of the Attorney General (AG), and the arrests were made.

Mah Gul's family says their daughter was killed because she resisted her mother-in-law's attempts to push her into sex-work.

Also in October, a 20 year old who resisted her drug addict husband's attempt to sell their daughter for money was brutally murdered by him in her father's house. Mahbooba Jamshidi says, "Kulsoom was against the practice of forced marriages, and had run away with her children to her father's house. Her husband Anwar followed her there, and killed her."

The AIHRC (Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission) estimates a 22 percent increase in the cases of violence against women in the last six months compared to the same period the previous year.

Family jail

Last month newspapers reported the release of another woman called Kulsoom who was forcibly detained in a "family jail" in Kasho Village, Teshkan district, Badakhshan. The family jail in this instance was a stable. Kulsoom's husband who was already married, was a very cruel man who kept her imprisoned for years; she was sexually abused and tortured. "They (her husband and his first wife) kept me in a dark room and beat me," the woman told the media from her hospital bed, where she was shifted after she was rescued by the police. Assistant Professor Zofanoon Hassam, head of Women's Affairs Department, said Kulsoom who was pregnant delivered a severely undernourished baby.

Kulsoom Afghan female victim jailed and tortured
Kulsoom. (Photo: Facebook)

This was the second case from Badakhshan this year of a woman kept against her will in a "family jail". Sahar Gul from Darayem district was sold in marriage to a man from Baghlan. Her mother-in-law forced her into prostitution. For six months before she was rescued she was confined by the family.

On June 27, Kunar was witness to the grisly murder of a 13-year-old girl called Shazia. Armed men beheaded her for resisting their attempt to kidnap her. Police have made three arrests in the case.

Latifa Sultani, women's rights programme coordinator at AIHRC, says 3,300 cases of violence against women have been registered from January to June this year compared to 2,700 cases over the same period last year. The crimes include physical assault, not providing alimony, sexual abuse and abduction.

Lack of security

AIHRC Commissioner for Human Rights Dr Suraya Sobhrang said a majority of cases involving the death of women for resisting assault were from "insecure" provinces. "The commission is particularly concerned about the fact that in 80 percent of cases of sexual assault the survivors are teenage girls, under 18 years old," she told Killid. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Women's Affairs says a total of 471 cases of violence against women have been registered. Most of the victims had resorted to suicide, self-immolation or run away from the house to escape the brutal violence.

Fawzia Amini, director of the legal department at the Ministry of Women's Affairs, said, "Unfortunately we have seen more than 50 percent of cases are of murder, self-killing, self-burning and hanging which are the result of family violence. The violence is more severe than in previous years."

Parwin Rahimi, in charge of the Women's Support Department at the AIHRC, believes lack of security is the main factor for the rise in figures of violence against women. "When everyone has a weapon, and the criminals are being supported by powerful armed people or a commander, the figures (crimes against women) will keep increasing," she says.

Rahimi adds that though the law very clearly states that punishment for perpetrators of crimes against women will be most severe and there will be no amnesty or shortening of their jail terms, they use Afghan courts to secure amnesty and light sentences. "We have been witness that every decree of the president (sees) release of many criminals who have committed crimes against women. The lack of law enforcement and strictness are the reasons for the increase in violence against women," she says.

The AG's office stoutly defends its track record. Rahmatullah Nazari, deputy AG, says it has even investigated cases that rights organisations are not aware about and the victims' families have not reported. On Nov 19, President Hamid Karzai signed the final execution warrants of 16 Afghan prisoners convicted of crimes including rape, murder and abduction. The prisoners were hanged to death as this issue of Killid was going to the press.

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