Her torturers have been sentenced to prison, but is it enough?
The plight of 15-year-old Sahar Gul captivated the nation and set off a storm of international condemnation when it came to light in late December. Officials said her husband’s family kept her in a basement for six months after her arranged marriage, ripping out her fingernails, breaking her fingers and torturing her with hot irons in an attempt to force her into prostitution.
Her uncle alerted authorities, and she was rescued; her attackers were sentenced to 10 years in prison. Her husband and his brother are still on the run, but her mother-in-law, father-in-law, and sister-in-law were sentenced to 10 years each. They kept her in the basement, pulled out her fingernails, and did other unspeakable things in an attempt to force her into prostitution to support them.
This is the fate of many Afghan women. Although marriage is illegal for girls under 16 years of age,
the United Nations agency UN Women estimates that half of all girls are forced to marry under age 15.
What future do they have, with no schooling, no support, and no opportunity? How can we, the most fortunate people in the world, stand by while this goes on under our watch?
…ending abuse remains a huge challenge in Afghanistan’s patriarchal society, where traditional practices include child marriage, giving girls away to settle debts or pay for their relatives’ crimes and so-called honor killings in which women seen as disgracing their families are murdered by their relatives.