Afghan woman killed for having baby girl; women’s rights under attack

 An Afghan woman has been strangled to death, apparently by her husband, who was upset that she gave birth to a second daughter rather than the son he wanted, police said on Monday. Police in northern Afghanistan have reported that a woman was choked to death by her husband and mother-in-law after giving birth to a baby girl for the third time.

“Storay, a 30-year-old mother of three, was choked to death by her husband and her mother-in-law in a remote village in Khanabad district of Kunduz province,” Sayed Sarwar Hussaini told dpa.
“She was told by her husband that if she delivered another baby girl, he would kill her,” Hussaini said.
Afghan women are exposed to physical or psychological violence
Almost a third of Afghan women are exposed to physical or psychological violence at some point and an estimated 25 percent are victims of sexual violence
The woman gave birth to the third girl three months ago.
“We have arrested Storay’s mother-in-law and we are looking for her husband, too, who is on the run,” Hussaini said.
Last month, a teenage girl was rescued by police in the neighbouring province of Baghlan after her in-laws tortured and kept her in a toilet for six months because she refused to prostitute herself.
Rights activists have constantly raised concerns over the treatment of women in Afghan society.
A United Nations report in 2010 said nearly one-third of all Afghan women are exposed to some level of physical and psychological violence and an estimated 25 percent suffer sexual abuse.
Violent crimes against women in the central Asian country are on the rise, local rights groups have reported in recent months.
In early January, the plight of a young 15-year-old Afghan girl made international headlines after she had been tortured and locked in a toilet by her in-laws.
Sahar Gul was kept in the toilet and abused for 6 months in the northern province of Baghlan.
The young girl was discovered by Afghan police on December 26 after her uncle reported her mistreatment.
Her husband’s family had tortured her because she refused to prostitute herself, police said. Her fingernails had been pulled out, and she had several burns, apparently from an iron and cigarettes, they said.
Activists and international observers have repeatedly raised concerns over the state of women’s rights in Afghanistan.
Almost a third of Afghan women are exposed to physical or psychological violence at some point and an estimated 25 percent are victims of sexual violence, according to the United Nations.
Legislation to protect women has been poorly implemented, and many incidents still go unreported, a UN report said in November.
Between March 2010 and March 2011, 2,299 incidents of violence against women were registered at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. But prosecutors opened only a quarter of those cases, and filed indictments in only 7 percent, the report said.
In November, gunmen threw acid in the faces of three girls and their parents in Kunduz province, just north of Baghlan, after the family refused to marry their eldest daughter to a local warlord.
In early December, an Afghani woman who was jailed after being raped, was freed from imprisonment after President Hamid Karzai pardoned her upon the victim’s agreeing to marry her attacker.
The news sparked an international outcry against the treatment of women in Afghanistan.
According to a government statement, the woman, Gulnaz, gave birth in prison to a daughter and was only allowed to be freed after she agreed, reluctantly, to marry the rapist.
According to the lawyer, Gulnaz had hoped to be freed from jail and not be forced to marry her attacker. Human rights organizations inside and outside the country have reported hundreds of women are currently languishing in Afghan jails after being raped.
“In my conversations with Gulnaz she told me that if she had the free choice she would not marry the man who raped her,” said Kimberley Motley, the woman’s lawyer, told BBC.
Motley did add that Gulnaz’s release was not conditional on her marrying the rapist.
Gulnaz said that after she was raped she was charged with adultery.
“At first my sentence was two years,” she said. “When I appealed it became 12 years. I didn’t do anything. Why should I be sentenced for so long?”
In the latest appeal, it was reduced to three years.
The presidential palace’s statement made note of the concept of rape in its public declaration freeing the woman.
It said a meeting of the judiciary committee had “discussed the issue of rape… and the issue of her imprisonment.”
“As the both sides [Gulnaz and the rapist] have agreed to get married to each other with conditions, respective authorities were tasked to take action upon it according to Islamic Shariah [law],” it said.
“The president ordered the office of administrative affairs and the secretariat of the council of ministers to make the decree of Gulnaz’s release.”
But women’s rights activists and groups have cried foul, saying the simple fact that the woman was imprisoned in the first place is wrong and defies logic.
“How could this woman be charged with any crime, unless Afghanistan and its conservative government are again returning to the ways we were forced to live under the Taliban,” said the female assistant to a high-ranking official in the country, speaking to on condition of anonymity. “I guess being a woman in this country is still a crime.”