For what is likely the first time since a 2009 law meant to protect women from rape was passed in Afghanistan, a rapist has been sentenced to prison — and his victim not made to bear any of the blame — in a landmark case in Kabul.
An unnamed 10-year-old Afghan girl was with two others at a mosque at a remote Afghan village in Kunduz province when mullah Mohammad Amin began acting inappropriately, according to Cosmopolitan UK. The girls tried to escape, but the victim was caught and dragged back into the mosque, where the mullah raped her. The girl suffered injuries so horrific that they won’t be detailed in this post.
Until 2009, rape wasn’t even a crime in Afghanistan. The Elimination of Violence Against Women law was passed, according to The New York Times, with the hope of reducing the number of rapes in the country, but enforcement has been spotty.
But police in Kunduz took pity on the victim, according to The Guardian, and arrested her rapist. Police spokesperson Sayed Sarwar Hussaini said his officers were so appalled at the crime that they felt they had no choice but to arrest the mullah.
“We sent a police unit to make the arrest, and we caught mullah Mohammad Amin while he was trying to flee.”
Unfortunately for the young rape victim, her male relatives were overheard plotting to kill her to avenge the shame brought on the family — a so-called “honor killing,” which sadly remains common in Afghanistan to this day, according to this Inquisitr report. The Afghan women’s rights organization Women for Afghan Women sheltered the girl while she recovered from her wounds. She has since been reunited with her family after receiving promises not to harm her, and the group raised money so the family could attend the rapist’s trial in Kabul.
“She was raped and is a child, and if we killed her, how would we answer to God on the day of judgment?”
During the trial, the rapist mullah argued that the young victim was actually 17 years old — above the age of consent — and that the sex act was consensual. His defense team argued that he, and his victim, should both be given the punishment for adultery allowed under Sharia law: 100 lashes.
Judge Mohammad Suliman Rasuli rejected those arguments.
“She cannot commit adultery; she is a child. This is rape.”
Although the young rape victim was not allowed to speak during the trial, she made her voice heard, directly addressing her rapist when he tried to say she seduced him.
“Hey liar, hey liar. God hate you, you are dirt, you are dirt, you are a vampire.”
The rapist was sentenced to 20 years. Women’s rights advocates applaud the sentence. Women for Afghan Women spokesperson Manizha Naderi fears that the rapist may still get away with his crime.
“I am happy with the sentence. As long as W.A.W. is alive and working, I will make sure that he spends the whole 20 years in prison. He won’t get out early if I can help it.”
It is unclear what lies ahead for the young Afghan rape victim. Although her family has promised to support her, events in the courtroom revealed that her father has rejected her. According to Cosmopolitan, the girl’s father refused to speak to her or even look at her during the trial.
Nevertheless, the prison sentence for the Afghan rapist, and the fact that the judge showed compassion to the victim, may yet signal the beginning of a change in the way rape victims, and rapists, are treated in Afghanistan.