In-laws Rip Off Girl’s Fingernails, But Who Cares?

Sahar Gul

Sahar Gul

KABUL, Afghanistan — A court has reversed the convictions of three Afghans jailed for torturing a young relative who had refused to become a prostitute, alarming activists who had celebrated the guilty verdicts as a warning to all those who would seek to reverse the strides made by women here in the past 12 years… the defendants — Sahar Gul’s mother-in-law, sister-in-law and father-in-law — (will) be set free.

From the New York Times

In objection to this reversal, I am rerunning my original post and unfortunately asking this same question: In-laws rip off girl’s fingernails, but who cares?

Fifteen-year-old Sahar Gul’s in-laws locked her away in a basement for six months. They beat her, tortured her with hot irons, broke her fingers, and ripped her fingernails off. Her uncle called authorities and by the time she arrived at a hospital her eyes were swollen nearly shut and scabs crusted her fingertips.

Afghanistan allows multiple wives, including child brides. This young bride had been taken in hopes of pimping her out in prostitution. The abuse was meant to persuade.

What struck me most in the AP report were the following lines:

The outcry over a case like Gul’s probably would not have happened just a few years ago because of deep cultural taboos against airing private family conflicts and acknowledging sexual abuse.

I am heartened that things are changing, with public outrage and an editorial in the Afghanistan Times reading, “Let’s break the dead silence on women’s plight.”

But to think that not long ago horrendous abuses like Sahar’s would have provoked no comment is outrageous. You have to wonder why women’s plight has been invisible for so long. And whether Afghanistan is alone in its blindness.

Women must be poorly valued for such abuses to go on without remark: mere property to be sold off, to make money off of, to beat when “disobedient,” to be stoned as spectator sport. And in some cases, to be tortured like lab rats.

When that is all you’ve known your whole life, when this world seems normal to all around you, who can fully see the horror?

Yet America isn’t always so different. Many still blame rape victims for their rape, and many victims still fear coming forward. Battering victims may be blamed for their abuse. Bullied spouses may feel shamed and cover up — and cover for their partners.

The world may be changing in Afghanistan.

The world needs changing right here in America, too.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 11, 2013, in feminism, psychology, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Great article! I feel that in each society, there needs to be an idol, where a lot of women, with their experience, could come forth and feel that their not tamed forever in their old and rude, horrible lifestyle.

  2. This post actually made me very angry because even though this little girl’s in-laws did all these horrible and discusting things that they were aquitted for their crime and free to possibly repeat their actions again. It makes me sad that someone can hurt others and not feel bad about one’s self. Why we can’t live in a world where everyone has the right to make their own decisions. I don’t understand how some can view woman as property that someone can just toss around. Its upsetting to know that there could be other younger girls out there that are being treated the same way right now or even worse.

  3. Reblogged this on winterdominatrix and commented:
    Child brides can be forced into Prostitution. Trafficking is slavery.

  4. Oh, good lord. Was thrilled with the verdict, but now they are free to do this again.

    “Women must be poorly valued for such abuses to go on without remark: mere property to be sold off, to make money off of, to beat when “disobedient,” to be stoned as spectator sport. And in some cases, to be tortured like lab rats.”

    Unfortunately, this is the case, with one exception–there is at least a monument to lab rats. Right here:

    I do not see one for undervalued women.

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