‘Afghan rape victim still in jail despite pardon’


An Afghan woman who was jailed for adultery after being raped remains in prison more than 10 days after President Hamid Karzai ordered her release, her lawyer said on Monday. Gulnaz, who has already served two years in prison after a relative raped her at her home, should have been released within 48 hours and there was “no good reason” for her to remain behind bars, Kimberley Motley said.
Her case highlights the poor state of women’s rights in Afghanistan, 10 years after a US-led invasion ousted the Taliban who were notorious for their harsh laws against women. Following an outcry over her situation, Karzai called a meeting where judicial officials decided to pardon her, presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi told AFP on December 1.
But the officials also advised that Gulnaz should marry the man who attacked her, due to fears she could be in danger if released because of the stigma surrounding her attack in ultra-conservative Afghanistan. Motley said there were no conditions set on Gulnaz’s release and she would need time to decide what to do. But she also voiced concern that her client was being visited in jail by her attacker’s father.
“She’s still locked up and there’s no good reason for it,” Motley said. “Since the president has announced that he is going to issue a pardon she continues to be visited by the attacker’s father. “That’s not appropriate. It’s very disturbing. He’s not a blood relative.” Gulnaz has been raising the child she had by her attacker in a prison cell in Kabul.
“She’s anxious to leave and to be free. She’s anxious to know what’s going on,” Motley said. “She was told by the committee she would be released within two days.” Officials said the order had been sent to the ministry of justice but was being processed through various offices. “We have already sent out the pardon letter.
It does take a while until the cycle and process is finished,” a presidential spokesman said. “We have not officially received the pardon order, but we know it is on its way,” ministry of justice spokesman Farid Ahmad Najeebi said. “It takes a while until it reaches us because it has to go to the president’s public affairs department, and several other offices before it reaches us. But we are expecting it soon.”