Afghan Child Bride Tortured For Refusing Prostitution

Following the rescue last month of 15-year-old Sahar Gul from the basement of her in-laws where she had been starved and tortured for months, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called for an investigation. CNN said that Gul was married to a 30-year-old man, Gulam Sakhi, about seven months ago. Police in the northern Baghlan province started to investigate after her parents said they had not seen her in months. Preliminary reports said that her in-laws had tried to force her into prostitution and, after she refused, she was detained in the basement.

According to Baghlan police official Jawid Basharat,

“After police rescued her from a dark room of her in-laws’ house, we saw her nails had been pulled out by her husband. And she said with broken voice that her husband used to cut her flesh using pliers.”

Gul was also denied food and tortured with hot irons. The Guardian says that she is now in a hospital in Kabul; an Afghan official says that she will be sent to India for more treatment. Authorities said they are waiting for her to recover before questioning her further.

It has also emerged that Gul at one point ran away to a neighbor’s house but was sent back. Police visited her in-laws’ house and the family promised that it would stop hurting her. Local community leader Ziaulhaq has alleged that government officials were paid bribes to cover up the incident.

When a male relative of Gul’s visited, he found her almost unable to speak. Gul’s mother-in-law and sister-in-law have been arrested and her husband, who is serving in the Afghan army, is being sought. Police spokesman Basharat said that there are reports that her mother-in-law and other family members were engaged in “criminal activities,” including prostitution and selling alcohol.

Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi described Gul’s torture as a “‘violent act that is unacceptable in the 21st century.’” Karzai has said that whoever abused Gul will be punished.

Violence Against Women and Girls Still Common

Women’s rights groups say that such violence against women and girls is still all too common in Afghanistan’s conservative society. There has been some progress since the fall of the Taliban ten years ago: According to CNN, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) registered 1,026 cases of violence against women in the second quarter of this year. In contrast, 2,700 cases were recorded last year.

In 2009, the Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women was passed; the law criminalized domestic violence, child marriage, treating a woman such that she resorted to suicide, and the buying and selling of women. However, only a small percentage  of cases– 26 percent between March 2010 and March 2011 — have been investigated as crimes; indictments have been filed in only 7 percent of cases. As Health minister Suraya Dalil is quoted in the Guardian about the horrific treatment of Sahar Gul,

“This is the very most extreme case that we have seen. That a child, that a girl child has been abused, has been physically abused, psychologically abused. It is an issue that shows that we still need to work a lot with regard to education, with regard to awareness, with regard to social and economic development.”

In December, an Afghan family was attacked by gunmen and sprayed with acid in their home after the father had refused a man’s bid to marry his teenage daughter. In another case, 21-year-old Gulnaz was imprisoned after reporting that her husband’s cousin had raped her; she agreed to marry her attacker in order to be released and legitimize a daughter conceived in the attack. President Karzai has intervened to have her freed.

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Photo by cordelia_persen

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Elizabeth Sowers
Liz Sowers2 years ago

That this president is stepping up to investigate at least these instances is more than other countries' leaders have done. I greatly hope this turns around soon, for none of these victims should have gone through such abuse.

Ian F.
Ian F.2 years ago

Children should be allowed to be children, without the fear of any form of abuse from immediate family (a parent selling them for the purpose of prostitution), relatives and society in general.

Natasha Salgado
Natasha Salgado2 years ago

It's neverending for women and young girls. God knows how many atrocities are inflicted on women everyday...this is only 1 of many. I think it should be mandatory that both women and young children take a self defense course,government funded,off course. At least they will be better equipped to defend themselves against these barberic,useless maggots.

Past Member
Past Member 3 years ago

How horrible and sad, that these young women are treated so savagely, and abused by their own people !!!!! They have no rights what so ever...I feel so bad for them and it seems very little is done to help them...the horrors they have to endure must be stopped some how !!!

ruby a.
Ruby A.3 years ago

When its gonna be over all this type of abuses against women, specially those little inocents girls ,, too sad

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle3 years ago

These poor women in these archaic countries!! It makes one's skin crawl every time there is a story about the slavery of women in these countries, be they in the middle east, far east, Africa.

Gene Sengstake
Gene Sengstake3 years ago

opps! that should have been “billion” - - -

Gene Sengstake
Gene Sengstake3 years ago

Why do we put up with this garbage anyway? Maybe if we actually lived some of these horrors - we would not just be making comments - but actually doing something about it. "Karzai has said that whoever abused Gul will be punished” - are you kidding me!!! - they should be executed. The LAW prevents the good guys from doing what should be done - and lets the bad guys get away with murder - torture - rape - you name it - - - the human population is out of control - or - depending on how you look at it - too much in control of everything we do. Laws - rules - regulations - - - human life is sacrosanct - no matter what atrocities you commit - prison and rehab - there is always some good in everybody - forget about the victims who have had their lives ruined and changed forever - they’ll get over it - - - nothing is going to change. As long as there are religions - cultures - and nationalities - there will always be differences that will result in violence of some kind. As long as there are people - given our “intelligence” factor - there will always be love - greed - ego - and any number of things that will impede our living in peace and harmony - especially given the 7 million and growing - numbers of us. We keep thinking things will change and eventually get better - but we are unwilling to take the steps necessary to do so. There is a reality here - but nobody wants to see it - and that’s just the way things are - - -

Xil L.
Xil L.3 years ago


joe M.
joe MARTINEZ3 years ago

Kathy: That's one more reason why USA women must unite and demand the GOP stops interfering with women rights. Everything in life starts small and before you realize it will be taken away. The GOP attacks on women's birth control isues to save money is a direct attack on your right to make choices. Like I said it starts small but their aim is abortion rights. Who will suffer the most, the improvished that can not afford to seek the alternative
being able to fly else where to pursue their right to choose. In Afghanstain their donkeys have more rights then their wives. Compare the two and tell me they're not seeking the same objective to keep women under their thumb with no rights.