Rights Group: Afghan Women Jailed for Escaping Abusive Husbands

Posted March 28th, 2012 at 3:25 am (UTC-5)
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A new report by Human Rights Watch says more than 400 women in Afghanistan are in jail for trying to escape abusive husbands and forced marriages.

The report says the women who seek to run away from such misery are frequently accused of adultery and imprisoned for so-called “moral crimes,” while their abusers walk free.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 58 such women and girls, including a wife who said her husband stabbed her in the head, chest, and arms with a screwdriver for inviting a male visitor into their home.

The report says another woman was forced to marry a violent, drunken and drug-addicted man when she was was only 12 years-old. She and her two daughters are in prison for running away and going into hiding. The husband accused his wife of sleeping with a cousin who helped her escape.

Human Rights Watch says there have been major improvements in women's rights in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban. They include a new constitution guaranteeing equal rights and new laws criminalizing violence against women.

But the group says the Afghan criminal justice system is dysfunctional. It also says President Hamid Karzai frequently changes his position on women's rights, accusing him of making too many compromises with conservative religious leaders.

There has been no comment so far on the report by Afghan officials.