Rights violations

Afghan woman punished by local court: ‘I was treated like an animal and kept like a slave’

An Afghan woman walks along a road in Herat on July 28, 2016. (AREF KARIMI/AFP/Getty Images)

While it is known that around 850 women are imprisoned in official detention centers in Afghanistan, it is thought that there may be thousands more who are being held in informal detention across the country — particularly in rural areas where local elders often meet to distribute justice.

The practice has raised concerns that the convictions and punishment of these women, for a range of crimes that include “moral crimes,” are in violation of their human and legal rights. According to Human Rights Watch, some 95 percent of girls and 50 percent of women imprisoned in Afghanistan were accused of “moral crimes,” such as running away from home.

Reuters interviewed a woman Fawzia, who at 18 was convicted of elopement and adultery by a local Afghan court, and sentenced to work as a domestic servant for 18 months in the house of a tribal elder, completely under his control.

“I was treated like an animal and kept like a slave,” Fawzia said. “What I have suffered, I pray that no woman should suffer.”

While not all women held this way are mistreated, they have little legal recourse to have complaints heard if they are abused. “From sexual abuse to other forms of unjust and inhumane acts, these women become a tribal elder’s property,” rights activist Zalmay Kharote said.

Read the full story at Reuters.

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