An Afghan woman imprisoned for adultery after being raped by a relative is going free — but only because she agreed to marry the man who assaulted her.
The 19-year-old woman, named only as Gulnaz, became high-profile after an EU-funded documentary film on her case was censored by diplomats who feared for her welfare.
As attention to Gulnaz’s case rose, Afghan President Hamid Karzai was forced to intervene, announcing that she would be released if she agreed to mediation with her attacker. That mediation resulted in the current decision: that she be freed if she marries her rapist, a move her supporters say she feared.
The documentary’s director, Clementine Malpas, told the Guardian that Gulnaz “feels like she has no other option than to marry him” and that it’s “the only way to bring peace between her and his family.”
In Afghan culture, a woman can legitimize a child born out of wedlock by marrying the father, even if the child was brought about by rape.
Gulnaz is not alone. Half of all female prisoners in Afghanistan have been sentenced to similar “moral crimes,” usually committed when trying to flee some kind of domestic violence. Human Rights Watch estimates the number of such female prisoners to be in the hundreds, and notes that they can be jailed for anywhere from two to 12 years.
Below, watch a BBC report on Gulnaz and the censored documentary:
The Swedish film, “No Burqas Behind Bars,” takes viewers inside an Afghan women’s prison to explore the impact of their charges of “moral crimes”:
Read more of today’s stories from around the world: