Ten years in prison await the in-laws of a child bride in Afghanistan who was horrifically brutalized by her husband’s family.
Late last year, fifteen-year-old Sahar Gul became the cause célèbre of women’s and children’s rights activists around the world after photos of her circulated after she escaped the torture and abuse of her in-laws.
Rescued by police officers after six months in captivity in an arranged marriage, Sahar was rescued by Afghan police. Authorities discovered that her fingernail had been ripped out, her fingers broken and her body tortured with implements. At the time of her rescue, it as reported that Sahar was locked up by her new family because she refused to engage in prostitution.
The nature of her suffering also caused Afghan President Hamid Karzai to promise that those responsible would be brought to justice soon after her rescue.
Sahar’s husband, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, mother-in-law and father-in-law were all found guilty of these human rights violations, but her husband and his brother are still on the run. They will be formally sentenced when apprehended.
With the help of a local women’s group, Sahar will appeal to the court that the perpetrators of her abuse receive a more severe sentence, the Halifax Chronicle Herald reports.
Torture is a violation of numerous human rights documents, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These treaties likewise protect people by precluding forced labour and trafficking, while the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination calls on countries to stop forced prostitution and marriage without free and full consent.
Though the minimum age for marriage in Afghanistan is 16, half of all girls marry before age 15, says the United Nations (UN). Averaged over the past decade (2000-2010), data published by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) shows that 39 per cent of children were married before the age of 18.
“She [Sahar] was very brave. When she was brought to us after her rescue, she was unable to speak. But this week she was able to get up and speak in front of an entire courtroom asking for her rights," said Huma Safi of the local group Women for Afghan Women to the AFP today.