In a setback for Afghan women, the country’s Supreme Court has confirmed it will reduce the sentences of the men convicted of killing a young woman known as Farkhunda, who had been falsely accused of burning a Quran.
The four men who took the lead in the violence saw their death sentences reduced to as little as 10 years in prison, including the man who made the false accusation against her, after Farkhunda, an Islamic scholar, criticized him for peddling amulets, condoms, and Viagra at a holy shrine. Nine other defendants also saw their sentences reduced by the Supreme Court. Of the 49 men arrested for her death, only 13 have been given serious sentences, and many of those have since been drastically reduced on appeal. Moreover, activists claim that several men responsible for the killing (and identifiable in cell phone footage) were never arrested.
The news of the Supreme Court decision, announced yesterday, cast a shadow over International Women’s Day activities in Afghanistan, where First Lady Rula Ghani at a keynote address in Kabul assured the crowd that the decision in “the case of our dear martyred Farkhunda” would be reconsidered. She pointed to reforms in the judicial system by her husband, President Ashraf Ghani, benefitting women.
Farkhunda’s family, living in Tajikistan since the controversy erupted, expressed their anger at the ruling: “Not only do we oppose the decision of the Supreme Court, but the entire nation is dissatisfied,” her brother, Mujibullah Malikzada, told The New York Times. “I’m not saying that the perpetrators must be lynched the way they lynched my sister. But all I want is fairness and justice, which has not been done.”
Read the full story at The New York Times.