December 14, 2011

Jailed Afghan rape victim freed

From Nick Paton Walsh, CNN

December 14, 2011
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- An Afghan woman imprisoned for adultery after a relative raped her has been freed after President Hamid Karzai intervened on her behalf.

The woman, identified only as Gulnaz for her own protection, had been sentenced to prison for 12 years after she reported that her cousin's husband had raped her two years ago. Wednesday, she was free, at a women's shelter in Kabul, with her daughter.
Her plight gained international attention when the European Union blocked the broadcast of a documentary about her ordeal, saying it would further jeopardize her safety.
Afghan Justice Minister Habibullah Ghaleb and a judiciary committee both proposed a pardon. Karzai then ordered authorities to decree Gulnaz's release.
After the attack two years ago, Gulnaz hid what happened as long as she could. She was afraid of reprisals. But soon she began vomiting in the mornings and showing signs of pregnancy. It was her attacker's child.
In Afghanistan, this brought her not sympathy, but prosecution. She was found guilty by the courts of sex outside of marriage -- adultery -- and sentenced to 12 years in jail. She was only 19.
In conservative Afghan society, Gulnaz faces considerable pressure to marry her attacker, thereby soothing the rift between the two families, restoring her honor and also legitimizing her daughter.
She was willing to do so in order to end her incarceration, she told CNN last month from Kabul's Badam Bagh jail, though she does not want that option. She would like to marry an educated man, according to U.S. attorney Kimberly Motley in Kabul.
How Gulnaz will be able to re-assimilate into the life she once had remains a confusing question.
Her choices are stark. Women in her situation are often killed for the shame their ordeal has brought the community. She could still be at risk, some say, from her attacker's family.

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