An Afghan woman was beheaded last week after she refused her mother-in-law’s demand that she have sex with another man.
Care2 has reported numerous incidents of violence against women and girls in Afghanistan, but the murder of this young woman is gruesome and atrocious. What kind of mother-in-law insists that her son’s wife prostitutes herself, and then proceed to murder that wife when she refuses?
Mah Gul, just 20 years old, lived in Herat province in southwestern Afghanistan along the Iranian border. According to authorities, this was not the first time the mother-in-law had tried to force her into sex with other men.
She had been married for four months to her baker husband. When he left home for work, his mother and her cousin tried to force the young wife into sex with the cousin.
From The Daily Telegraph:
The suspect, Najibullah, was paraded by police at a press conference where he said the mother-in-law lured him into killing Gul by telling him that she was a prostitute.
“It was around 2am when Gul’s husband left for his bakery. I came down and with the help of her mother-in-law killed her with a knife,” he said.
In a statement released yesterday, Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said:
“The tragic fate of Mah Gul is one more incident that highlights the violent atmosphere that women and girls face in Afghanistan and the region. They are raped, killed, forced into marriage in childhood, prevented from obtaining an education and denied their sexual and reproductive rights. Until basic human rights are guaranteed to women and girls in the region, these horrible abuses will continue to be committed.
Gul’s murder comes on the heels of the shooting by Taliban Islamists of a 14-year-old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai, who had become a voice against the suppression of women’s rights.
There is some good news, however, as Yousufzai, who has been flown to the UK for treatment, was able to stand with the aid of nurses on Friday for the first time since her shooting and is also able to write coherent sentences. At this point she cannot speak because she has a tracheotomy tube inserted to protect her airway.
Doctors at the hospital in Birmingham are hopeful that the girl shot after she defied the Taliban by insisting on the right of girls to go to school could make a good recovery.
But in Afghanistan, oppression and violence against women are commonplace.
You may remember that last year Afghan police rescued a teenage girl, Sahar Gul, who was beaten and locked up in a lavatory for five months after she defied her in-laws who tried to force her into prostitution.
The abuse of girls and women in Afghanistan flourished under Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, when women were banned from classrooms, politics or employment. Women had to be escorted by a male relative every time they left home, and they were forced to wear burqas.
Much of this has changed, and many girls are receiving an education now, even though schools are frequent targets of attacks.
But as we can see in the tragic story of Mah Gul’s short life, women and girls are still extremely vulnerable in Afghanistan. We need to stay vigilant, and make sure the stories of these women are told around the world.
There are, however, some glimmers of hope in Afghanistan, as seen in this skateboarding program that also educates young boys and girls.
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