In-laws of Tortured Afghan Girl Get Prison Terms

Posted May 1st, 2012 at 10:50 am (UTC-5)
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Three in-laws of an Afghan girl who was locked up and brutally tortured have each been sentenced to 10 years in prison for abusing her.

A family court in Kabul sentenced the father-in-law, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law of Sahar Gul on Tuesday. Gul's husband remains at large and the court said he must also be brought to justice.

Meanwhile, Gul — who was 15-years-old when the abuse was discovered last year — is under the protection of a nongovernmental agency.

After Gul's family reported her missing, police found her locked in a small, windowless room in the basement of her husband's house in northeastern Baghlan province last December. Officials say Gul was confined after her husband's family tried to force her into prostitution and she refused.

Police said Gul had been severely beaten on her face and legs. She told investigators she had also been tortured with pliers and that her mother-in-law shaved her head and pulled out her fingernails.

Gul, from the northern province of Badakhshan, was married last year when she was 14 years old. Investigators say she was locked away about two months later, but Gul said the torture began right after she was married.

Afghan laws set the marriage age for girls at 16, and Gul's marriage was not officially registered at a court, as is the case with most marriages in the country.

Almost half of Afghan women are married before the age of 16.

Gul's case has gotten international attention. She is held as an example of the limits women in Afghanistan still face, even after the fall of the repressive Taliban regime. During the Taliban era of the 1990s, women were banned from working, getting an education, or leaving home unaccompanied by a man.