December 01, 2011

Karzai: Afghan rape victim free to decide if she wants to stay in prison

From Masoud Popalzai, CNN
December 1, 2011 
Gulnaz, 21, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after reporting she had been raped by her cousin's husband
Gulnaz, 21, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after reporting she had been raped by her cousin's husband

(CNN) -- An Afghan woman imprisoned for adultery after a relative raped her is free to decide whether she wants to go home or remain in detention for her safety, President Hamid Karzai said Thursday.
Karzai said he's asked the justice minister to meet with the woman and her rapist to find out whether she wants to marry him and legitimize her daughter.
The woman was sentenced to 12 years in prison after she reported that her cousin's husband had raped her two years ago. CNN is identifying her only as Gulnaz to protect her identity.
The president said he was concerned that if the woman went back to her village after her release, she may face reprisals from the conservative society.

"If Gulnaz tells the justice minister today that she would marry the man and wouldn't have any problem after release or if she presents any other way that she could live without any risk to her life and her daughter's, then the Justice Ministry will issue a statement today announcing her release," the president's spokesman said.
Karzai wants her released, but the final say depends on the outcome of the justice minister's meeting, said Aimal Faizi, the spokesman.
The decision came during a high-level judiciary meeting called by the president after media inquiries and a petition with nearly 5,000 signatures.
Members of the sitting Cabinet are expected to visit Gulnaz in prison and present her with the option of marrying her attacker.
Gulnaz's lawyer has said she does not want to marry her rapist and has a safe place to go on release.
The woman did not immediately report the attack over fear of reprisals, and she was sentenced to prison for adultery because her attacker was married at the time.
Her sentence was later reduced to three years.
Last week, a spokesman for the attorney general said while the original sentence for adultery was reduced, she had failed to report her rape quickly enough and would have to serve some time in prison for that offense.
The woman is raising her daughter in jail and had previously agreed to marry her attacker in order to be released and legitimize her daughter. She also fears attack from her rapist's relatives, something he denies is a risk.
Her plight gained international attention when the European Union blocked the broadcast of a documentary made about her ordeal saying that it would further jeopardize her safety.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh contributed to this report.

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