An Afghan man has strangled his wife for having a third daughter instead of giving birth to a son, the Guardian reports. The 28-year-old mother was killed in her home in the northern province of Kunduz. Her husband has fled from police.
Just weeks earlier, Sahar Gul, a 15-year-old child bride, was rescued from the basement of her husband’s house in northeastern Baghlan province after being burned and beaten by her in-laws for months because she refused to go into prostitution. In December, an Afghan woman imprisoned for adultery after being raped by a relative went free — but only because she agreed to marry the man who assaulted her.
What’s perhaps more shocking about the stories than the violence is how routine they are. A number of recent human rights reports show that violence against women in Afghanistan is an ongoing problem, according to the Los Angeles Times. Issues include forced marriages, rape by spouses and punishment for women’s perceived “moral crimes.”
A Thomson Reuters Foundation survey of gender experts last summer ranked Afghanistan as the most dangerous country for women. In its recent annual report, Human Rights Watch focused on continuing violence against Afghan women, especially domestic abuse. HRW also gave some scary numbers:
— Approximately 700 women and girls are in prison for “moral crimes,” such as running away from home, even if they did not disobey the law.
— Afghanistan has 14 shelters for women, which does not even come close to filling the needs of abused women in the country.
— An estimated 70 to 80 percent of marriages are forced.
— Some 87 percent of women face at least one form of physical, sexual, or psychological violence or a forced marriage during their life.
Anger towards women can extend to taking other victims, too. Two months ago, also in Kunduz province, several men poured acid over parents and their three children because the parents would not hand over their young daughter in marriage.
When the U.S. departs from Afghanistan, likely in 2014, human rights activists say the problems for women may only get worse.
A recent statement from the U.S. embassy in Kabul warned: “The rights of women cannot be relegated to the margins of international affairs, as this issue is at the core of our national security and the security of people everywhere.”
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