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.
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.