Case File 1: VAW: Sahar Gul



Image: New York Times

On Malala Day, as we will now come to revere, remember and respect July 12, we heard young Malala speak beautifully and eloquently about the need to fight for our rights as women, by ourselves. As much as the sun rose that day on the dawn of a renewed fight for the rights of women across the world, it also dismally set with the acquittal of the three people who tortured young Sahar Gul – not very far from where Malala was shot. 

A child bride, sold at the hateful behest of her stepbrother’s wife when she was just 12, Sahar’s in-laws (or should we say outlaws?) forced her into prostitution – and when the child resisted, all kinds of torture rained down on her. She was starved, imprisoned, beaten, hot rods were inserted in her ears and vagina, her nails were pulled off, her chest was bitten and she was mercilessly thrashed by her tormentors. Sahar was rescued from a room without even a window – where she was lying down in a disoriented state, immobile and moaning from all the pain – among hay and animal faeces. 

That she was married off – nay – sold – even before she could say “growing up” is a terrible thing in itself. But add to that cruelty and torture of terrible proportions – how can something so tiny as procedure defeat the purpose of justice altogether? Sahar’s torturers’ acquittal comes closely at the heels of a quashed effort to endorse a law on bringing violence against women in Afghanistan to an end – that too, on the pretext that the aforesaid legislation was un-Islamic for wanting to end forced marriage and laying down a specific age for marriage. 

What would you do if you sat on that bench to decide Sahar’s case? Wouldn’t her wounds speak to you, and tell you the untold stories of days and days of torture? Wouldn’t her terrible condition prove to you the disparaging effect of the treatment meted out to her? But it didn’t, to an appellate court in Afghanistan. The accused were freed despite having imprisoned, starved, burned and beaten Sahar. 

Is a young girl’s life so easy to write off? Is she so much of a threat that all that the world is trying to do is to stifle her into non-existence? Read the complete brief on Sahar’s case here, and sign our petition that asks for justice for Sahar here.

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