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Afghan President Hamid Karzai has pledged to take action against the “cowardly” perpetrators of violence against women in the wake of a horrific case of the torture of a child bride.
The president made the commitment after a visit by a delegation from the Afghan Women’s Network over Sahar Gul, 15, who was burned and beaten and had her fingernails pulled out after she defied efforts to force her into prostitution.
Gul was found last month in the basement of her husband’s house in northeastern Baghlan province, where she had been locked in a toilet for six months by her husband and his parents.
The president said that he always took measures as soon as he heard about cases of violence against women, and would continue to take the issue seriously so that the culprits were brought to justice.
“Hamid Karzai termed violence against women as a cowardly act and said: ’In our country women are not just the victims of family violence, but they also get killed by terrorists and foreign forces,’” said a statement from his office.
This last remark was seen as a reference to civilian deaths in the US-led war against Taliban insurgents — a regular Karzai target.
The statement gave no details of what action the president would take. Gul’s mother-in-law, sister-in-law and father-in-law were arrested but her husband is still at large.
Afghan Women’s Network lawyer Wida Latif told AFP ahead of the meeting that the group would ask Karzai to give the girl a place to live.
“Or else she will be taken to a women’s shelter and will be forgotten like many other women who live in those shelters,” said Latif.
According to figures in an Oxfam report in October, 87 percent of Afghan women report having experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage.
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission logged 1,026 cases of violence against women in the second quarter of 2011 compared with 2,700 cases for the whole of 2010.