Prison Release May Be Deadly Risk for Afghan Women
Wednesday, October 10, 2007 9:14 AM

Local custom usually calls for the release of prisoners as part of the celebration of Eid, the festival which closes out the month-long holiday season of Ramadan. But this year, international activists are saying that for many women in the Afghan prison system, this release could lead to homelessness, a return to domestic violence perpetrators, sexual exploitation, and possibly death.

Activists warnings on the consequences of prison release reflect numerous findings which demonstrate that women are often imprisoned for crimes committed against them. As Afghan women are property according to the Sharia law based justice system, women do not have the right to run away or leave the house without permission of her husband (even if domestic abuse is present); she may not easily file for divorce, as this could mean she is committing adultry; and she may also be bought or sold in order to settle her husband's debts. Refusal to comply with any of these norms implies criminal activity and possible prison sentencing. Activists are concerned that, for these Afghan women, release from prison back to their perpetrators could be more harmful than the prison itself.

Activists are therefore working with women prisoners to prepare them for release by teaching survivor skills such as literacy and job training, as well as legal awareness classes.  Nonetheless, important survival structures such as transitional housing are still not available, despite numerous recommendations by the UN and other activists.

Compiled from: "Freedom Called Lethal Risk for Jailed Afghan Women," Women's eNews, 7 October 2007.