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Sahar Gul, Afghan Child Bride, Brutally Tortured for Six Months by In-Laws Trying to Force Her into Prostitution

An Afghan child bride was locked in a basement and brutally tortured over a period of six months by her in-laws because she resisted their attempts to force her into prostitution.

The Associated Press reports that 15-year-old Sahar Gul of Baghlan province was rescued by police from her in-laws’ basement, where she was subjected to some of the most horrific tortures imaginable. Her fingernails were ripped out, her fingers were broken and she was burned with hot irons.

She was imprisoned for six months before being rescued after her uncle reported her situation to authorities.

Gul’s mother-in-law and sister-in-law were arrested; her husband, who is serving in the Afghan army, is a wanted man.

Gul, who is now in a Kabul hospital, will be sent to India for medical treatment.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said that what happened to Gul “is unacceptable in the 21st century.”

“If the police had not arrived in time she may have died,” he told reporters.

“After police found out about the small girl Sahar Gul they took action and found her in the basement of the house in very bad condition,” Jawad Basharat, Baghlan police spokesman, told the AP. “Her nails were pulled out, she has injuries in all parts of her body, there are signs of burning on her body, she was suffering from different kinds of injuries.”

Basharat said that Gul’s mother-in-law and other relatives were believed to be involved in “criminal activities” such as selling alcohol, which is banned in Afghanistan, and prostitution.

“According to the neighbors in the area, Sahar Gul’s in-law’s were not good people. Besides selling alcohol, they were involved in prostitution and that is why they put pressure on Sahar Gul to join with them. She was not happy with it and that is why they put her in the basement, detained her for six months and tortured her,” Baghlan womens’ affairs director Rahima Zarifi told the AP.

Gul’s case has sent shock waves through Afghanistan, but violence against women is not unusual in this conservative Muslim country. While such violence has decreased since the hellish days of Taliban rule, and while the 2009 Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women has criminalized many abuses, only a small percentage of reported crimes against females are prosecuted by the Afghan government.

According to the United Nations, only 155 indictments, or 7% of the total cases reported, occurred between March 2010 and March 2011.

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