Afghanistan: Courts Vacate Sentences for Afghans who Tortured Victim of Forced Marriage

The Supreme Court in Afghanistan recently reversed the convictions of three individuals charged with attempted murder for torturing a 14-year-old girl. The young girl was sold into marriage by her stepbrother for $5,000. When she refused to have sex with her new husband, three of her in-laws locked her in a basement and tortured her.
 
Although the young girl's husband remains at large, the three in-laws were convicted last year of attempted murder and each received a 10-year prison sentence. However, the Supreme Court in Afghanistan recently sent the case back to the appeals court, stating that the evidence appeared to warrant an assault conviction rather than an attempted murder conviction. The court of appeals then vacated the defendants’ 10-year sentences, and ordered that the in-laws be set free. Two of the defendants are currently free. Officials were unsure whether the third defendant has been released from prison. Meanwhile, the victim has been recovering in a women’s shelter in Kabul.
 
Women advocates are concerned that the decision to vacate the sentences reflects a shift toward more conservative policies as well as a recent backlash against women’s rights. The Executive Director of Women for Afghan Women, Manizha Naderi, stated, “This poor girl was in the basement for months. If she wasn’t rescued she would be dead. . . . How is this not attempted murder?” Neither court officials nor prosecutors responded to questions about the case.
 
Compiled from: Rosenberg, Matthew, and Sukhanyar, Jawad, “Afghan Court Reverses Convictions in Torture of Girl,” New York Times (3 July 2013).