Afghan women jailed for "moral crimes"



Even though the Taliban have long been out of power in Afghanistan some of the strict moral prohibitions characteristic of their rule remain under the Karzai regime. Afghan women have been jailed for crimes such as running away --often from domestic abuse, and having sex outside of marriage.

Human Rights Watch claims that the Karzai government has not met its obligations under human rights laws. The executive director of the group said:“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,” Actually it is not all that surprising since the culture is not that easy to change and Karzai wants to keep the support of very conservative groups including the so-called reformed Taliban.

The human rights report claims that there are 400 women in prison and younger girls in juvenile facilities for offenses that include running away. The report noted:“Some women and girls have been convicted of zina, sex outside of marriage, after being raped or forced into prostitution,..Judges often convict solely on the basis of ‘confessions’ given in the absence of lawyers and ‘signed’ without having been read to women who cannot read or write. After conviction, women routinely face long prison sentences, in some cases more than 10 years.” Obviously these are odious miscarriages of justice carried out solely upon women. Even worse, many of 58 inmates who were interviewed feared they would be murdered by their family members if released in so-called honor killings.

The report cited a woman sentenced to three years in prison after fleeing a father-in-law who raped her : “I am happy in here. Here I am not afraid because I know no-one is coming in the night to kill me.”

Karzai to his credit has often issued pardons to women convicted of moral crimes. However, it is rather incongruous to give a pardon for something that should not have been a crime in the first place. For more see this article.

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