15 Dec 2011

Afghan woman jailed after being raped is freed after two years in Kabul prison

An Afghan woman who was jailed after being raped by a cousin has been released from the Kabul prison where she has spent more than two years, although her lawyer has warned her future remains far from certain.


Gulnaz, a 20-year-old who is known by one name, was set free on Tuesday night, nearly two weeks after Hamid Karzai, the Afghanistan president, ordered her release. Her case has highlighted the issue of "moral crimes", which lawyers say have no basis in Afghan law.

Despite being the victim of a rape at the hands of a cousin, a day labourer called Asadullah Sher Mohammad, she was charged with "adultery" after reporting the attack to police and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

For two years and three months Gulnaz had been living in the Badam Bagh prison in Kabul with her daughter, who was conceived by the rape. Karzai had come under growing pressure in the weeks leading up to the recent conference on Afghanistan held in Bonn to release Gulnaz, who has become a symbol of the highly conservative Islamic country's failure to substantially improve the lot of women in the last 10 years.

Although the government said she would be released without any conditions, she has come under heavy pressure, including from a judge, to marry Sher Mohammad, who is in another prison in Kabul serving a rape sentence.

The Guardian