When she was only 12 years old, Sahar Gul was forced into an early marriage to a man considerably older than her in Afghanistan. Her new in-laws wanted her to take up prostitution, but when she refused, she was locked in a cellar, beaten, burned. Her nails were ripped off from her fingers.
In late 2011, the girl was rescued and her torturers were sentenced to 10 years in prison — of which they served only one after an appeals court acquitted them in May 2013.
The high-profile case, as many women’s advocacy groups and human rights organizations point out, marked a turning point in the country’s women’s rights agenda, and sent a chilling message: What they all fought so hard to squash in the past 13 years following Taliban rule is happening all over again.
This week, women’s rights — or better said, lack of — in Afghanistan caught worldwide attention when President Hamid Karzai refused to sign into law a criminal procedures bill that could further deteriorate the standing of women in this war-torn nation.