Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Afghanistan: Where Being Raped is a Crime
As if the situation in Afghanistan wasn't bad and getting worse.
As if the enemy wasn't bad enough.
Who I wonder will save these poor women from our so-called friends?
Two-thirds of the women in Lashkar Gah's medieval-looking jail have been convicted of illegal sexual relations, but most are simply rape victims – mirroring the situation nationwide. The system does not distinguish between those who have been attacked and those who have chosen to run off with a man.
In a separate area are the female "criminals" – the youngest is just 13 years old – along with their small children, who must stay with their mothers if no one else will claim them. Their only luxury is a carpet, two blankets, basic cooking facilities and two daily deliveries of bread. They have neither medical care nor, as Colonel Ali acknowledged, "basic human facilities", such as washing areas, electricity and drinking water.
Earlier this year a report by Womankind, Taking Stock: Afghan Women and Girls Seven Years On, revealed that violent attacks against women, usually in a domestic setting, are at epidemic proportions – 87 per cent of women complain of such abuse, and half of it is sexual.
More than 60 per cent of marriages are forced and, despite laws banning the practice, 57 per cent of brides are under 16. Many of these girls are offered as restitution for a crime or as debt settlement. Afghanistan is the only country in the world with a higher suicide rate among women than men.
As she was led away to her jail cell yesterday, Dorkhani lifted her burqa to reveal a sun-battered face streaked with tears and pleading eyes: "Please, please take our words somewhere where people will be kind and help us."
Assghanistan. Just when I think it couldn't get any worse.
Somehow it always does...