Statistics obtained from Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry by the campaign group Human Rights Watch reveal the number of women and girls convicted of ‘moral crimes,’ which include running away from home has increased by 50 per cent in the last year from 400 to 600.
Many of the 600 women jailed in the last year are victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse whose only crime was to run away from their assailants, the group said.
It called on the Afghan government to enforce its own Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW), and to stop its judges punishing female victims.
Although it is not a crime in Afghanistan for women to run away, the group said the country’s judges, including members of its Supreme Court, regard women who run away from their homes as criminals. Many of them who flee rapes and other assaults have been charged with seeking sex outside marriage, known as Zina in Afghanistan.
Those jailed for Zina include women and girls who have been raped or forced into prostitution, the group said.
By Mirwais Harooni
KABUL | Sat May 4, 2013 8:47pm BST
(Reuters) – Seven U.S. soldiers were killed in two separate attacks in Afghanistan on Saturday, NATO and Western officials in Kabul said, capping off one of the bloodiest weeks for international forces this year.
The attacks underscored the dangers faced by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), even as they hand over much of the fighting to Afghans ahead of a planned withdrawal next year.
Five U.S. soldiers were killed in the southern battleground province of Kandahar when they were struck by an improvised bomb on Saturday, a spokesman for the U.S. forces and provincial authorities said, adding that it took place in Maiwand district.
Including Saturday’s attacks and three air crashes, 21 U.S. military personnel have been killed in the last week. Three British soldiers were also killed on Tuesday by a roadside bomb in the southern province of Helmand.
An Afghan woman was beheaded last week after she refused to be a prostitute despite her mother-in-law’s urging, the AFP reported.
The woman was identified as Mah Gul, 20, who reportedly lived in Herat province in western Afghanistan. This was not the first time the mother-in-law tried to force her into prostitution, authorities said, according to the AFP report.
Four people were arrested in connection to the killing, the AFP reported. One suspect, Najibullah, reportedly said at 2 a.m. the mother-in-law alerted him that Gul was a prostitute and “with the help of her mother-in-law killed her with a knife.”
The murder comes after reports of a 15-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot by Taliban as she headed home from school in the northwest Swat Valley.
Yousufzai said Friday that she is able to stand with help and to write, though she still shows signs of infection.
The girl is “well enough that she’s agreed that she’s happy, in fact keen, for us to share more clinical detail,” said Dr. Dave Rosser, medical director at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
(Reuters) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused the Taliban on Monday of beheading 17 villagers, including two women, in volatile Helmand province, in a gruesome attack recalling the dark days of the hardline group’s rule before their 2001 ouster.
He ordered a full investigation into the “mass killing”, which a local official said was punishment to revelers attending a party with music and mixed-sex dancing.
“This attack shows that there are irresponsible members among the Taliban,” Karzai said in a statement.
The Taliban denied they had taken part in the attack, which Karzai’s office said took place in Kajaki district in the southern province.
“The victims were killed for throwing a late night dancing and music party when the Taliban attacked,” Nimatullah, governor for neighboring Musa Qala district, told Reuters.
Men and women do not usually mingle in ultra-religious Afghanistan unless they are related, and parties involving both genders are rare and kept secret.
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — More than 120 girls and three teachers were admitted to an Afghanistan hospital Wednesday after being poisoned in their classes with a type of spray, a Takhar provincial official said.
The incident occurred in the provincial capital of Talokhan, in the Bibi Hajera girls school, said Dr. Hafizullah Safi, director of public health for the northern Afghanistan province.
Forty of the 122 girls were still hospitalized, he said, with symptoms including dizziness, vomiting, headaches and loss of consciousness.
Blood samples have been sent to Kabul in an effort to determine the substance used, he said.
The US soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in a massacre that has undermined relations with Kabul has been named as Staff Sgt Robert Bales.
Senior US officials told the BBC the name of the suspect as he was heading back to the US to face charges.
He is expected to land soon at Fort Leavenworth, in Kansas, from Kuwait.
His lawyer, John Henry Browne, said on Thursday that the suspect was a 38-year-old man who had been injured twice while serving in Iraq.
He also said the accused had witnessed his friend’s leg blown off the day before the killings.
That incident has not been confirmed by the US Army.
The Taliban called off peace talks in the wake of Sunday’s deadly rampage – in which men, women and children were shot and killed at close range.
The US has stressed it remained committed to Afghan reconciliation.
The American soldier accused of killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan on Sunday has been flown out of the country.
Officials say legal proceedings against the unnamed staff sergeant will now be conducted in another country. It is not clear where he has been taken.
The victims were shot in their homes, causing outrage across Afghanistan.
The transfer coincides with a visit by US defence secretary Leon Panetta. His arrival in Afghanistan was marred by an incident involving a vehicle.
A stolen pick-up truck was driven at high speed onto the runway where Mr Panetta’s plane was intended to stop at the British base in Helmand province, Camp Bastion.
The vehicle ended crashing into a ditch and bursting into flames. The Afghan driver suffered burns and has been arrested.
A Nato serviceman was injured when the vehicle was stolen. Neither Mr Panetta nor anyone on board the plane was at risk at any time, officials said.
Militants in Afghanistan have launched an attack on a government delegation visiting the site where a US soldier killed 16 civilians.
Two of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brothers and several top security officials were in the delegation in Panjwai in Kandahar province.
One Afghan soldier and three of the militants were killed, police said. The delegation is heading back to Kandahar.
The US soldier said to have carried out Sunday’s attacks is under arrest.
A US military official said that “probable cause” had been found, meaning they could continue to hold the soldier. The unnamed 38-year-old staff sergeant is being held at an undisclosed location.
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — An American soldier went on a house-to-house shooting spree in two villages in southern Afghanistan early Sunday, Afghan officials said, killing 16 people in what Afghanistan’s president called an “unforgivable” crime.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said the soldier acted alone and turned himself in after opening fire on civilians. U.S. President Barack Obama called the killings “tragic and shocking,” and offered his condolences to the Afghan people in a phone call to his counterpart in Kabul, Hamid Karzai, the White House said.
But the attack is likely to further more anger at international forces following deadly riots over the burning of Qurans by U.S. troops.
“The Afghan people can withstand a lot of pain,” Prince Ali Seraj, the head of the National Coalition for Dialogue with the Tribes of Afghanistan, told CNN. “They can withstand collateral damage. They can withstand night raids. But murder is something that they totally abhor, and when that happens, they really want justice.”
In a statement issued by his office, Karzai said the killings took place in the district of Panjwai, about 25 km (15 miles) southwest of Kandahar, southern Afghanistan’s major city. Haji Agha Lali, a member of the provincial council, told CNN the soldier had attacked four houses in two nearby villages.
By Al Arabiya with Agencies
President Barack Obama on Tuesday said the United States was committed to long-term ties with Afghanistan but did not want to keep troops there longer than needed to disable al Qaeda and ensure a modicum of stability as foreign forces withdraw.
“President (Hamid) Karzai understands we are interested in a strategic partnership with the Afghan people and the Afghan government,” Obama told reporters in a news conference.
“We are not interested in staying there any longer than is necessary to ensure that al-Qaeda is not operating there and that there is sufficient stability that it doesn’t end up being a free-for-all after ISAF has left,” he said, referring to the NATO military force led by the United States.
Obama spoke as the White House seeks to put behind it the spasm of violence that erupted when U.S. soldiers burned copies of the Quran on a NATO military base last month – and the questions it has raised about U.S. strategy.
The outcry over the desecration of the Muslim holy book, which included a spate of so-called insider attacks against U.S. soldiers, has underscored the challenges that remain in Afghanistan despite Western nations’ plans to withdraw most of their troops by the end of 2014.
“Yes, the situation with the Quran burning concerns me,” Obama said. “I think that it is an indication of the challenges in that environment and it’s an indication that now is the time for us to transition.”
NATO forces have begun to gradually put local police and soldiers in the lead for security. While the Afghan military is far larger and better equipped than it was, it will remain heavily reliant on outside help and funding for years to come.
Obama said he was confident his plan could be carried out. “But it’s not going to be a smooth path,” he said. “There are going to be bumps along the road just as there were in Iraq.”