Afghan Poet Nadia Anjuman Beaten to Death

The Associated Press
Tuesday, November 8, 2005; 9:02 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Poet Nadia Anjuman was beaten to death, and her husband and mother have been arrested. The United Nations condemned the killing Tuesday as symptom of continuing violence against Afghan women four years after the fall of the Taliban.

Nadia Anjuman _ who was widely praised for her first book of poems, titled "Gule Dudi," or "Dark Flower" _ died Friday in a hospital in the western city of Herat after being beaten, said Nisar Ahmad Paikar, chief of the city's police crime unit. She was 25.

Her husband has confessed to slapping her after an argument, Paikar said. The woman's mother was at home at the time and was suspected of having had a role in the death. Both were arrested, but no charges were immediately filed.

"This is a tragic loss for Afghanistan," U.N. spokesman Adrian Edwards said of the slaying. "Domestic violence is a concern. This case illustrates how bad this problem is here and how it manifests itself. Women face exceptional challenges."

Before U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban from power, the regime barred women from working and girls from studying. Women were unable to travel without a male relative accompanying them and if they were caught outside without wearing an all-encompassing burqa, they were often beaten.

Though things have much improved in parts of the country, President Hamid Karzai's U.S.-backed government has little authority in many rural areas to enforce a new constitution that guarantees gender equality.

Thousands of people attended Anjuman's burial in Herat on Sunday.

"Students everywhere are so upset over this. She was such a prominent poet in Afghanistan," said Homayan Ludin, a student at Kabul University.

© 2005 The Associated Press