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Afghanistan

Afghan Newlywed Girl Rescued From Torture

Fifteen-year-old Sahar Gul is seen after her rescue from imprisonment and torture, allegedly at the hands of her husband and in-laws.
Fifteen-year-old Sahar Gul is seen after her rescue from imprisonment and torture, allegedly at the hands of her husband and in-laws.

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By RFE/RL
POL-E KHOMRI, Afghanistan -- The torture endured by a 15-year-old newlywed allegedly at the hands of her husband and in-laws has shocked Afghan officials and the world alike.

The wounds, bruises, and scars that cover Sahar Gul's battered body provide gruesome evidence of the abuse Gul has endured in the six months since being sold into marriage far from home with a man twice her age.

Her left eye is nearly sealed shut; her right leg is wrapped in gauze; fingers are broken, and some of her nails have been pulled out. Still, all of it is an improvement from last week, when police found her near death when they arrived to free her from the dark basement where she was being held.

At a hospital in Pol-e Khomri, the capital of the northern Baghlan province, where she first underwent treatment after the rescue, Gul could barely muster a reply to questions posed by a local official, Rahima Zarifi.

"My father-in-law, sisters-in-law, [and] brother-in-law used to beat me," she responded to Zarifi's question. She accused them of abusing her with pincers and said her mother-in-law pulled out clumps of her hair and tore out her fingernails.

Gul's neighbors in her new town told RFE/RL, on condition of anonymity, that her in-laws began beating her soon after she arrived from Badakhshan Province to marry their 30-year-old son, Ghulam Sakhi, a soldier in the Afghan military.

They described hearing of how Gul's father died when she was young and her mother remarried. For a price of $5,000, they say, she was handed over as a bride.

Some locals suggest she was tortured by her in-laws because they wanted to force her into prostitution.

But Zarifi, the director of the local Women's Affairs Ministry in Baghlan, said it was still unclear why she was tormented. But she was quick to add that the emotional and physical scars were obvious.

She said Gul "was tortured continuously, every three or four days," since she was married a half-year ago.

"Her condition is very bad. When somebody lifts her left hand, she screams loudly. Maybe it is broken," Zarifi said. "She also has a worsening skin infection. The doctors think it might be contagious. She also has psychological problems and is very stressed."

Her family in Badakhshan contacted police after they were not allowed to see or speak by phone with Gul.

Since being moved to Kabul on December 28 for better medical treatment, Gul's story has attracted national and global attention. Afghanistan is among the most dangerous places in the world for young women, with opposition to girls' education high in traditional circles, maternity deaths routine, and suicide rates high.

Afghan officials have announced that they plan to transfer Gul to a hospital in India.

President Hamid Karzai on January 1 vowed to punish those responsible.

Fazal Rahman, a police officer in Baghlan's second district, said the authorities had arrested Gul's mother-in-law and sister-in-law and were looking for her brother-in-law and father-in-law.

Afghan officials have directed the Defense Ministry to arrest Gul's husband, a soldier who is currently serving in southern Helmand Province.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has declared her ordeal to be the worst form of torture. Shamsullah Ahmadzai, the head of the commission's Kabul office, has called on authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"We demand that law enforcement and judicial authorities vigorously pursue this case," Ahmadzai said. "The perpetrators of such heinous acts should be brought to justice, in accordance with Afghan law."

Written by RFE/RL correspondent Abubakar Siddique in Prague, based on reporting from Radio Free Afghanistan correspondents Bashir Ghazali and Hameed Mohmand in Baghlan and Kabul
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: havgul from: USA
January 02, 2012 15:04
ignorance at its best.
In Response

by: Hannah from: SF Bay Area
January 02, 2012 17:33
This is normal in the Muslim world. Girls as young as 5 years of age are "sold" to be "married" to men who are old enough to be their grandparents. Their faith allows this. And to beat up on a child is expected. The UN does not condemn this - but will condemn Israel. Karzai is a liar, thief and a traitor to the US who put him up for over 15 years free of charge. We as a whole should take all females out of this hell-hole, educate them then let them be productive citizens who can help others. Perhaps they will no longer be Muslim. That would be a blessing. The Afghan Army was American Coalition trained - but not to do this.

Remember, once-upon-a-time Afghanistan was a beautiful country before the Islamic mentality set in. Who can forget that Afghan girl from National Geographic in 1988? What she saw was not from the USSR's attack but from her own people.

Where's the women's rights groups? Where's Amnesty International?

Another reason to disban the UN - they are useless.
In Response

by: Usman Naderi from: USA
January 02, 2012 18:13
Hannah, I agree with to an extent where I am hesitating to comment at you, because Muslims all around the world have done things that under no circumstances are allowed in Islam. This doesn't mean Islam is okay with this rather means people who run this sacred religion are hypocrites and do nothing about it. Hence regular Muslims are left out and are forced to take refuge and ask for help from sources like the UN and U.S. Needless to say that Women's right and Blacks right were only a dream that came true about sixty years ago in America. This is no reflection to Christianity. It's the cruelty that men think they are fair for some time and then will end soon. Amen.
In Response

by: Sey from: World
January 03, 2012 15:47
Despite I agree with you, Hannah, that Afghanistan was way better before the Soviets, the Islamists, and the Americans (in that order) drove it into what it is today, your conceptions of what Islam is are completely wrong.

Child-brides, abuse of women, wife beating, killing of girls before they're born happen in India at sickening rates, yet you don't hear no one blaming Hinduism, right?

Wife beating and humiliation, trafficking of children for forced labor, sexual exploitation of women and girls, happen in Latin America at exorbitant rates, yet you don't listen to no one blaming Catholicism, right?

You've got to difference religion and culture. A same religion is understood differently from people who's culture differs entirely from what their religion says.

The Bible says "Thou shalt not kill", yet Latin America, where the 95% of the population is Roman Catholic, has one of the highest rates of homicide in the world.

The United States, where people are so proud of being Christians, is one of the countries with the highest rates of crime and jailed people per population.

Does that sound a bell? The Bible, the Quran, can say "Please, do not marry children, do not beat your wife nor torture her, do not make her suffer. Treat your wife well and with love". You think the average poor Afghan, Latin American, miserably poor people will follow?

People is not driven by their religious convictions, in fact that is the last thing they even think of, they're driven by the poverty, the hopelessness, the violence, and the miserable conditions they're forced to live in.

Muhammed and Jesus may have said whatever you like, people's going to do exactly the opposite.

by: Usman Naderi from: USA
January 02, 2012 16:02
I am an Afghan and this article is one of the numerous rules reasons that shames me of being an Afghan. We have stepped over humanity beyond imagination. We cut noses off of the faces of our wives, sell them for unpaid debts, enslave them for a coward man's murder, and marry them in some unthinkable young ages-child rape. We have gone so far that return is not due in this life. I am so deep in sorrow that words can't describe. I pray for long shamed life for the man who done this. I pray long shamed life for the family who allowed this despicable crime to happen.

by: Sergey from: Chicago, USA
January 02, 2012 17:12
While this case of this poor Afghani girl is among the most outrageous, it is just one of thousands and thousands of the so called "honor crimes" committed within predominantly Muslim societies and Muslim communities around the world. Here is the report analysis on the "honor crimes" in Britain that registered 3,000 cases in 2010. Yet another evidence that "multiculturalism" works (sarcasm).

http://thenewamerican.com/world-mainmenu-26/europe-mainmenu-35/10105-report-3000-honor-crimes-in-britain-in-2010

by: Honor Killing from: Bahrain
January 02, 2012 20:16
Honor killing has no place in Islam, though Muslims being most emotional and their family ties closely knit cannot bear the humiliation of the daughters ill ways, end up giving in to the devil and killing their loved one.

Islam - on the contrary - came and liberated women. These people may be Muslims, but they got it wrong, Islam is no way to blame for these barbarian acts. They are the followers who are ignorant as havgul rightly put it.
In Response

by: Chechen
January 03, 2012 01:04
I am sorry my friend but Afghanistan is Democracy. The Western way of life etc. Do not blame Islam for that. The official order in Afghanistan is REPUBLIC and NOT SHARIA.
In Response

by: not chechen
January 03, 2012 20:30
im having trouble understanding afghanistan is a republic when on any map you find, locating afghanistan on map it says islamic republic of afghanistan. islamic part describing theocracy, what due u mean chechen are u confused, maybe the islamists in their province are confusing you.
In Response

by: Chechen
January 03, 2012 23:54
I am sorry that you are stupid. Islamic Sharia is different from Republic. Republic is unIslamic. Period.
In Response

by: Chechen
January 03, 2012 23:55
not chechen. Have you ever heard of Christian Caliphate of Germany? Never? Right because it is an oxymoron. The same is applicable to you but wihout oxy-
In Response

by: Sey from: World
January 04, 2012 16:49
"not chechen", what does most national American poems and pledges say? "One nation Under God", "In God we Trust"

If you are attempting to say Afghanistan is NOT a secular republic, then it is true, it is NOT A SECULAR REPUBLIC. Most of the world's countries are also NOT SECULAR. Why? Because secularism means differentiating religion from state and political affairs. How many US candidates have been taking religion lately to increase their support? How many European nationalists take religion as basis for their anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant claims?

Now, I am not saying the USA nor Europe do not allow freedom of religion, yes they do and it is very good. But the US is not a secular country in terms of how much the religious game is played by politicians, social activists and is mixed with state and political affairs.

If any country says "We are a Christian nation", that is not secularism. If any country says "We are an Islamic nation", it is most definitively not secularism.

Nobody questions if they are constitutional republics, though. But when a religious group makes up the majority of the population, and this influences the decisions taken up by the political leaders, who also happen to share the same religion, then secularism does not exist.
In Response

by: vlad from: us-moldova
January 04, 2012 04:14
Just a simple question: How old was Mohammed when he married his youngest wife Aisha?

A simple answer: He was 53, she was 9 at the time of marriage. Aisha was 6-7 years old when she was betrothed to Mohammed. Just history here from wikipedia. No any insult and no comments.
In Response

by: Marriage from: Bahrain
January 04, 2012 11:15
Marrying a 9 year old is not correct as per our standards today. Was not the case 1400 years ago. Don't apply today's standards to way back in history. Don't just stop there, read further, you will find the best true love story between a married man with his wife. The best story based on love, mutual respect and heartfelt care for each other, not the so called relationships we have between men and women purely for pleasure. Do read further, don't limit your knowledge to just that. Read further.
In Response

by: Sey from: World
January 04, 2012 16:38
OK Vlad. I see you like to take stories and parts of the Quran and Muhammed's life as if they were applicable today. Let's see if we can do that with the Bible, shall we?

Deuteronomy 25:11-12
"If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity."

I could totally mess up this religious text to prove whatever point I like to prove, interpret it the way I see it, but I will not do so like many Christians like to do with the Quran.

Fact is fact, Muhammed married Aisha when she was 6, and he consumed his marriage with her when she was 9. Yes, nobody claims the opposite. But what year was that on? The 7th century people, back then most of the world's population was living in tribal communities.

Afghans have been forced to live under these 7th century circumstances because of what we know today as "Bombing up your country back to the stone age." Marrying children is unacceptable today, and if any of those girl's or any girl's relatives take the story of Muhammed to support these crimes against childhood, we should understand they are taking up religious pretexts for the cultural deviations they've been forced upon by violence and misery.

Just for the matter, many young Hindu girls in India are also sold into marriage to old men. Do they also take Muhammed's story literally?

In Response

by: Chechen
January 04, 2012 21:18
I am sorry vlad but your typical lies are not going to impress a Muslim. Here is the answer to your question:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6arDk6-lPdE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYjb3rENZls

P.S. The more you lie about Islam the more people will revert to Islam. By the way the guy on the video was a Christian minister. His father was a Christian minister he also returned to Islam.

by: Alex from: LA
January 02, 2012 20:42
Yeah VIVA LA FREEDOM for ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF BARBARIANS! This what we are in war for people that have no human rights! I blame her religion and mainly her parents that SOLD HER, this is not slavery days, except for people that live in this types of countries, mainly the book they die for.
In Response

by: Usman Naderi from: USA
January 03, 2012 13:13
Alex, you have no right to insult Islam and it's Book. It's better to stay shut than say words out of empty head. I can't believe this website allowed such blasphemous comment against Islam.
In Response

by: Alex from: LA
January 04, 2012 01:40
The truth hurts, thank god in America and freedom of speech, we can judge people that follow any book. The reality is that people in Christianity, Islam and Judaism have done this for centuries, when they used simple folks that were uneducated, fanatics and blood thirsty to do the bidding of one person to kill and rob other groups. So don't go on saying that I have no right to tell the truth that people like you are to blind to see and acknowledge. That the reason why Christians were able to move and change, while the rest remained behind in evolution of societies, politics and religion. First realize you have a problem then you can attempt to fix it. Your people never say its their fault they simple blame others around them.

FYI I never talk about the majority peace loving Muslims but those few % that screw everything up for the rest of the Muslim. To me a good human being is just that and nothing more, no matter of what background or appearances they have. Of course the opposite for the bad human beings, that's what Jesus Christ apostles taught my Armenian ancestors and we never lost our religion or faith in our lord's teachings. How many time have your ancestors been converted? Mine NEVER and NEVER EVER we will lose our religion, we lost millions of our people to that process of conversion from all forms of religions Islam mainly, including the other Orthodox Christians.
In Response

by: Chechen
January 04, 2012 21:33
"REPUBLIC OF BARBARIANS" the USSR was a Republic, the USA is a Republic. Didn't you know? How can you call your own country BARBARIANS while sitting in LA?

Isalmic Emirate of Afghanistan is not a Republic it is an Emirate. Still do not see the difference? Plus it all happened in the US controlled/invaded country where no Sharia laws work. The sin of this girl in on the USA. It was their objective to protect her and they failed.

by: Francesca from: Toronto, ON, Canada
January 03, 2012 03:32
So much is wrong with this I don't know where to begin. Religion is the worst thing that ever happened to this planet. It has served as a way to enslave women since forever. It has been the reason for war. This story is one more disgusting result of religion.
In Response

by: Chechen
January 04, 2012 21:35
You can tell the lies to whoever you want. Godless-atheist regimes such as the USSR murdered more people than all the three last religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) combined.
In Response

by: Francesca from: Canada
January 05, 2012 06:06
I'm with the scientists on religion. Anything else is just a crutch for those who need one. Your comments are frequent and tiresome.

by: samual from: UK
January 03, 2012 06:03
Religion is not to blame! You'd be stupid if you did. Horrific Stories like this are common around the world! Third World!! What did you expect!? Going back 60 years black people were treated like Aliens in the US subjected to worse a tale, lets not be quick to forget the past. This is a Humanitarian Problem we all have to deal with. Blaming Islam or any religion is not the solution. Albino children in Africa are being killed for crazy rituals! Do I blame the witch doctor? No! we educate the people. Its easy to judge but so hard to see the bigger picture. 1.6 billions Muslims around the world i'm sure if it was so unjust it wouldn't have been such a success. Afghans will always be muslim's, with poverty and war evil always finds a way to manifest itself and easy for us to stereotype.
In Response

by: Francesca from: Canada
January 03, 2012 14:41
You would be stupid to believe that religion has not been used as the excuse for so many atrocities.
In Response

by: Sey from: World
January 04, 2012 02:10
Exactly! Religion is "The Excuse", but hardly ever "The Reason"

by: Therese from: Bellham
January 03, 2012 21:14
This young girl's horrific torture and systematic mistreatment probably represent only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the abuse of girls and women in Afghanistan. The miracle is that her case became public, so public that President Karzai was embarrassed into taking a stand against the people who are responsible. In Afghanistan, girls much younger than Gul are "sold" into marriage, their impoverished parents are glad to have one less mouth to feed. Young girls are "given" as penance or retribution payments to families in which a member has been murdered, by the family of the murderer. No-one knows what happens to these little girls after they are handed over. Girls and women have little or no human rights in Afghanistan, using the words "it is our tradition" is supposed to cover the multitude of sins that lurk under the cloak of these practices. No questions are asked, and the adults who should care about the welfare of minors, walk away. It is their "tradition" after all.


by: vlad from: us-moldova
January 04, 2012 04:25
Thanks God I was not born in the Islamic country. Thanks God for living in the free society... Good prayer for every day. That is how I feel after such stories.

Muslims say "Islam is good". I do not see much good coming out of Islamic states. It was better to be born in the USSR. Chinese communists are more humane.

Poor girls.
In Response

by: Chechen
January 10, 2012 13:38
Russians killed half of the Chechens in the uSSr. Thanks Allah the uSSr was destroyed. Islam is better than ruSSizm.

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