Raped Afghan woman’s pardon raises further questions
A woman jailed for adultery after being raped has been pardoned by the Afghan president - but she may be forced to marry her attacker.
The woman, names as Gulnaz, agreed to marry her attacker, the husband of her cousin, under an earlier release offer.
However, her lawyer, Kimberley Motley, an American who took Gulnaz’s case on a pro bono basis, has said the pardon granted by President Hamid Karzai yesterday did not depend on her going through with the marriage.
Senior Afghan officials have said the government had not put any preconditions on her release and that she had said she will marry the attacker only if her brother marries the attacker’s sister.
Gulnaz’s case has attracted international attention and some 5,000 people signed a petition for her release.
She was initially given a two year sentence but when she appealed the sentence was increased to 12 years by a judge who said her only way out was to marry her rapist.
When Gulnaz appealed a third time, that sentence was reduced to three years and the requirement to marry was dropped.
She gave birth to a daughter while in Badam Bagh women’s prison (see WVoN story).
Ms Motley said the judiciary had effectively supported the Elimination of Violence Against Women Act by allowing for Gulnaz to be released.
The decision would open the way for a review the cases of other women in the same jail, she added.
Gulnaz’s story was included in a documentary commissioned and paid for by the European Union (EU) about Afghan women jailed for so-called “moral crimes”.
The documentary was withdrawn from a recent screening (see WVoN story).
Entitled “In-Justice: The Story of Afghan Women in Jail,” the film tells the story of Gulnaz and two other women.
The EU defended its decision to withdraw the film on the basis of “very real concerns for the safety of the women portrayed”.
But a leaked email from Zoe Leffler, the European Union attaché for justice, the rule of law and human rights, to the filmmakers said the European Union “also has to consider its relations with the justice institutions in connection with the other work that it is doing in the sector.”
Even if the women in the film “were to give their full consent,” the European Union would not be “willing to take responsibility for the events that could ensue and that could threaten the lives of the documentary’s subjects,” the email continued.