To that end, Gulnaz currently resides in an undisclosed location, hiding from her own family, as reports have surfaced that her brothers have threatened to kill her baby daughter.
Tragically, Gulnaz’s ordeal is currently being shared by nearly 350 Afghan women and girls who are currently locked up in Afghanistan prisons, convicted for crimes of forced adultery or “zina” (extramarital sex). Like Gulnaz, many of these women have the added burden of sharing their jail cells with their children.
Most disturbingly, many of the jailed inmates are themselves children, evidenced by the fact that 114 of them are girls between the ages of 12 and 18, 80 percent of whom are serving sentences for either running away from a forced marriage or having extramarital sex.
As the head of Afghanistan’s juvenile prisons has said of these girls, “Afghan society really hates these crimes. People really hate it when girls run away.”
To prove that point, the Afghanistan Supreme Court in October 2010 ruled that any Afghan woman who fled her home and went anywhere other than to the police or a close relative would be locked up as a precaution against them having illicit sex or engaging in prostitution.
Not surprisingly, many Afghan women are afraid to seek help from Afghan police and judicial authorities for fear they will either face further exploitation at their hands or be forcibly returned to their abusive homes. As such, the women’s prison population in Afghanistan has risen from 380 to more than 700 in the two years since the Supreme Court ruling.
Sadly, jail or forcible return home remain the only unsavory options open to most Afghan women given that fewer than half of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces currently have shelters available to runaway women.
Moreover, the Afghan government has made increasing efforts over the past year to take over management of the existing shelters for women, almost all of which are operated by nongovernmental organizations or the United Nations.
In February 2011 the Afghan government ordered Women’s Protection Centers to transfer their control over to Afghanistan’s Women’s Affairs Ministry, claiming that government takeover of the shelters would lead to improved funding and better management.
However, a spokesman for Human Rights Watch said, “The real agenda is clear. The government is increasingly dominated by hard-line conservatives who are hostile to the very idea of shelters, since they allow women some autonomy from abusive husbands and family members.”
While pressure from NGOs and advocacy groups drove the Afghan government in September 2011 to remove many objectionable parts of the shelter regulation — most notably allowing the shelters to remain independent — it still required that a woman could not move out of the shelter unless she is going to the home of a male relative.
Of course, that rule can prove problematic if in many cases those same male relatives may have abused or threatened to kill the woman or girl in the first place. Yet, as one women’s rights advocate says, “That may be more a problem with Afghan society, where it’s nearly impossible for a woman to live alone, without a husband, father, brother or a grown son.”
Unfortunately, the problems women face in Afghanistan don’t seem to be abating anytime soon. In fact, they almost assuredly seem closer to intensifying as both the Afghan government and the United States are currently seeking to negotiate with the Taliban to end its insurgency and reintegrate itself into Afghan society.
As such, many women activists understandably worry that their hard-won political rights, however small they may be, will quickly evaporate once the Taliban rejoin the Afghan fold. As one female Afghan activist lamented, “I’m afraid we won’t have all this anymore if the Taliban are allowed back into society.”
Tragically, given the continued abuse levied against the women and girls of Afghanistan, it’s not a stretch to imagine that they would even notice the difference.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.
To get the whole story on why the Left is indifferent to women ‘s suffering under Islamic gender apartheid, read Jamie Glazov’s book, United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror.
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