Maybe you’ve heard about the 19-year-old Afgan woman who was raped by her cousin’s husband, and then when she became pregnant from that rape, was sentenced to prison, with her daughter, for 12 years for adultery. The sentence was later reduced to three years. Finally, Afghan President Hamid Karzai eventually ordered her pardon.
But, wait, how can you pardon someone who didn’t do anything wrong? Oh, yeah, she was raped. Her bad.
Before being pardoned, a judge offered to free her if she would marry her rapist. Apparently there are no such strings attached to the subsequent pardon. But the pressure to marry her attacker is still intense. Such a marriage would legitimize her daughter, “restore honor” to her brothers, and smooth the potentially violent rift between the two families. It seems likely that, without marrying her rapist, her family won’t accept her and her daughter, and it is feasible that she could even become the victim of a so-called honor killing. So, she still has some very difficult decisions to make.
According to CNN, her attorney, Kimberly Motley, in Kabul, says that she does not want to marry her attacker. She would like to marry an educated man.
Even if she should decide to marry her attacker, it may not be possible for some time. He is still in jail for five more years. Motley explains that, “as far as I know there has never been an Afghan wedding in jail.”
I guess I’m blogging about this because it seems like many people think of the fight for women’s rights as something from the past. Hey, this is happening in our world, right now, today. Nevermind having the vote, these women don’t even have the “right” to be raped without being thrown in jail! Or to then peacefully pursue a subsequent life that will promote their own healing. Clearly, there is much work still to be done.
Peg Shippert is a psychotherapist in private practice in Boulder, Colorado. She has a deep passion for working with survivors of sexual violence.
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