According to a new report from Human Rights Watch, “I Had to Run Away,” hundreds of Afghan women have been jailed for “moral crimes” like running away from abusive or forced marriages or fleeing after being rape, kidnapped or forced into prostitution.
Women who have sex outside of marriage known as “zina”– even when they are forced to – are considered to have committed adultery which is also a “moral crime” that leads to arrest and imprisonment.
Judges often convict women who cannot read or write without the presence of a lawyer which makes their “confessions” problematic.
The stories of the women and young girls imprisoned are tragic.
Take for example, Aisha, 20-years-old, who was sentenced to three years in prison for running away from a physically abusive man whom her father forced her to marry as a second wife. “I just want a divorce,” she says. “I can’t go back to my father because he will kill me. All my family has left me behind.”
With a husband who beats her and a family who has disowned her, for Aisha there is no going back.
Aisha is not alone. So many of the women and young girls who are imprisoned have nowhere to turn. Running away was their means of survival. Now in prison they must carry out sentences – some as long as 10 or more years – for “crimes” they committed to save themselves.
“It is shocking that 10 years after the overthrow of the Taliban, women and girls are still imprisoned for running away from domestic violence or forced marriage,” said Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth.
It is shocking. It’s time for women’s rights to become a priority in Afghanistan.
What do you think about women being imprisoned for “moral crimes”?
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