Afghanistan: Young Girl Raped by Mullah Faces Death to Preserve Family "Honor"

Relatives of a ten-year old Afghan girl raped in a mosque by a mullah have threatened to kill the girl to preserve the family’s “honor.” The girl, who almost died from the violent attack, was treated at a local hospital and taken to a women’s shelter in Kunduz, Afghanistan for protection. Local police later removed her from the shelter because her family guaranteed the police they “would not harm her.”

The shelter’s director, Dr. Hassina Sarwari, received several death threats from the girls’ relatives and “other mullahs,” who demanded that Dr. Sarwari return the girl to her village. Dr. Sarwari reported that the girl's mother and aunt had discussed the situation at the hospital, and that the girl's father "was under tremendous pressure by the villagers to kill the girl because she had brought shame to them.”

Many see this case as emblematic of the rapid erosion of women’s human rights in Afghanistan, as the international community pulls back from the country and women’s NGOs and shelters lose protection and funding. In the more remote or tribal areas of Afghanistan, “Taliban insurgents and pro-government elements often make common cause in their hatred of progress in women’s rights, most of which has come about with international funding and pressure.” Customary laws and traditions are dominant and mean that “honor killings in rape cases are common in Afghanistan.”

The mullah who raped the girl was arrested, but he claimed that the sex was consensual and that the girl was seventeen.

Compiled from: Nordlund, Rod, Struggling to Keep Afghan Girl Safe After a Mullah Is Accused of Rape, The New York Times (July 19, 2014).