The story of Gulnaz, an Afghan woman who married her rapist to order to give the daughter he fathered a normal life after being shunned by her family, is one that highlights of the appalling state of women’s rights in Afghanistan.
In 2009 16-year-old Gulnaz, who is based in Kabul, was raped by Asadullah, who was married to her cousin. This attack led to her being pregnant.
But rather than being embraced and consoled by her family during her time of great need, Gulnaz’s brothers decreed that she had “shamed” the family because she was unmarried.
Then, a Kabul court sentenced her to two years in prison under the label of “adultery by force.” When Gulnaz appealed this sentence she was found guilty yet again and it was increased to 12 years.
In order for Gulnaz to avoid prison and get her sentence reduced, she had to marry her attacker, Asadullah. In early 2013, without any other options, she exchanged vows with the rapist, and now over 2 years later, she is pregnant with his third child.
But during her interview with CNN, Gulnaz admitted that she only agreed to marry her rapist in order to give her eldest daughter, named Smile, the opportunity of a life without prejudice in the capital city of Afghanistan.
Speaking to CNN, via the Daily Mail, Gulnaz explained, “I didn’t wan to ruin the life of my daughter or leave myself helpless so I agreed to marry him. We are traditional people. When we get a bad name, we prefer death to living with that name in society.”
Throughout her interview, Gulnaz couldn’t even bring herself to look at Asadullah, who insists that he did his wife a favor by marrying her.
“If I hadn’t married her according to our traditions, she couldn’t have lived back in society,” explained Asadullah, who served a reduced sentence after being convicted of the rape. “Her brothers didn’t want to accept her back. Now, she doesn’t have any of those problems.”
To complicate matters even further, Asadullah is still married to his first wife. And Asadullah, his two wives, five children from his first marriage, and two children with Gulnaz all live in one home.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai took the unusual step of freeing Gulnaz from prison in 2011 after, following her appeal, she had been sentenced to three years in jail.
Before then, she’d given birth to her daughter in Kabul’s Badam Bagh women’s jail, and even though the requirement to marry Asadullah who himself was serving time for seven years had been dropped from the arrangement, she decided to marry him because the only other option she had was a life of poverty.
[Image via CNN]