AFGHANISTAN: Crimes Against Women in Greater Numbers Than Reported: AG

Thursday, October 18, 2012
Tolo News
Southern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Mohammad Ishaq Aloko told TOLOnews that because most women in the remote areas of the country do not have access to or in some cases do not even know of the judicial bodies, many incidents are never reported.

"You see that women in the provinces such as Badghis and Daikondi don't know at all where the judiciary organisations are and what they do," he said in an interview Thursday.

Aloko's comments come after a spate of reports surfaced of brutal crimes against women – usually at the hands of their families.

The recent case of Gulsom, 20, being freed from a home prison last week with her two-week old premature newborn in northern Badakhshan province was closely followed by today's report of a woman being beheaded by her family in western Herat province.

Mah Gol, 20, was beheaded four days ago allegedly at the behest of her mother-in-law Pari Gol for refusing to prostitute herself.

Local police said Thursday that they arrested four people over the incident which took place four days ago. A young man, Najibullah, the cousin of Pari Gol, confessed his crime to before the media, saying the beheading was requested by his cousin.

"Pari Gol, my cousin told me 'We have to kill Mah Gol, and you help me with this.' One night at two o'clock, I went to my cousin's. My cousin took Mah Gol's feet tight, who was asleep. I cut her throat," said Najibullah.

The Ministry of Interior reported that Mah Gol's mother-in-law, father-in-law, husband, and Najibullah were all arrested in connection with the case.

"We have arrested four persons suspected of being part of the incident. We hope that the perpetrators of this act will be punished," the MOI spokesman Sediq Seddiqi said.

AFP reported the provincial police chief Abdul Ghafar Sayedzada saying that the beheading was done after Mah Gol repeatedly refused to prostitute herself. She had been married to Pari Gol's son for four months and was living in his family's home. On the morning of the incident, Mah Gol's husband had left already for work at the local bakery.

Women's rights activists say one of the main factors to the ongoing family violence against women is the culture of impunity and inattention of the government in bringing such crimes before the courts.

"If these incidents are not tracked and the government doesn't pay serious attention to such issues, revealing them by the media won't be effective in stopping it. The laws need to be implemented and the criminals need to be punished," said Afifa Azim, one of the founders of Afghan Women Network.

Some of the civil society activists pointed out the case of a mullah who sentenced a woman to be killed by firing squad in the Qades district of Badghis province two years ago continues to freely live without charge. It is said that the mullah, Esfandyar, has joined the peace process and is exempt from punishment.

There are further reports that this year Mullah Esfandyar went to Hajj with government financial assistance. However, the Badghis Department of Hajj and Religious Affairs said that he went with his own money.

"Mr. Esfandyar has not been sent to Hajj by the government. As far as we are informed, he went with his own money," said Mulawi Gol Mohammad, Head of Badghis Department of Hajj and Religious Affairs.

Recently-appointed Badghis provincial governor said he will follow up the case of Mullah Esfandyar.

"Criminals should be punished, and I will follow this incident seriously in Badghis province," said Mohammad Taher Sabari in a telephone interview with TOLOnews.

Other top government officials confirm that violence against women is rife in the country, however the steps for bringing the criminals to court are very slow and weak.