Lawless region

Gender violence is perpetrated with impunity in Afghanistan’s Ghor province

Afghan women, one breastfeeding a child, wait for treatment at a governmental hospital in Chaghcharan city of Ghor province on September 13, 2009. (MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghanistan consistently ranks as one of the worst places in the world to be a woman or girl. In the country’s Ghor province, the situation is particularly dire. As The New York Times reports, Ghor is an impoverished and largely lawless region, where gender-based violence is rampant and perpetrators are rarely brought to justice.

Fawzia Koozi, head of the women’s rights commission in the Afghan Parliament, told the Times that there were 118 registered cases of violence against women in Ghor over the past year. But the number is likely higher, since many instances of violence are not reported. “And not a single suspect in these 118 cases has been arrested,” Koozi said.

The most recent case involved a woman named Suraya, who was killed alongside her aunt and her lover while trying to escape an abusive marriage. The victims were killed by villagers, their bodies burnt and left to fester outside for days.

There have been many other episodes, each one as profoundly disturbing as the next. In October 2015, a teenage girl, Rukhshana, was also apprehended while trying to flee a forced marriage with her lover. She was buried up to her waist in dirt and stoned to death.

Tabaruk, a mother of six, died while fleeing her village in Ghor province. Police claim she was killed after falling off a horse, but her young son says that Tarabuk’s husband and two village elders shot his mother. Tarabuk and her family were banished from their homes because her teenage daughter became pregnant out of wedlock — reportedly after being raped.

The government has done little to curb the violence in Ghor. The province borders on regions held by the Taliban, and officials worry that if they interfere in honor killings and other cases of gender-based violence, villagers will align themselves with the extremist group.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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