Dawn News

An Afghan woman cries over the dead body.—AFP Photo
An Afghan woman cries over the dead body.—AFP Photo

CHARIKAR: Pressing her cheek against the fresh grave of her newly married teenage daughter, Sabera yowls as she gently smears clumps of dirt over her tear-stained face.

“My daughter! Why did they kill you so brutally?” the mother screams in the sparsely filled cemetery in Parwan province, 65 km north of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Sabera says her daughter Tamana was killed by a relative in a so-called “honour killing”, in what officials link to a wider trend of rapidly growing violence against women in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan's independent human rights commission has recorded 52 murders of girls and women in the last four months, 42 of which were honour killings, compared to 20 murders for all of last year.

Activists and some lawmakers accuse President Hamid Karzai's government of selling out to the ultra-conservative Taliban, with whom it seeks peace talks, as most foreign troops prepare to leave the country by the end of 2014.

During their 1996-2001 reign, the Taliban banned women from education, voting and most work, and they were not allowed to leave their homes without permission and a male escort, rights which have been painstakingly won back.

But there are signs the government is backsliding on women's rights. Earlier this year, Karzai appeared to back recommendations from powerful clerics that stated women are worth less than men and can be beaten.

“Karzai has certainly changed, and women's issues are no longer a priority for him,” said outspoken female lawmaker Fawzia Koofi.

Last week, Hanifa Safi, head of women's affairs in eastern Laghman province, became the first female official to be killed this year when a bomb planted on her car exploded.

A spokesman for Karzai said the government is committed to women's rights, “Unfortunate incidents against women do occur. The government is doing what it can,” said Siamak Herawi.

Forced marriage

Fifteen-year-old Tamana died not far from where a young woman was publicly executed for alleged adultery last month, touching off an international outcry.

Tamana's parents say she never returned from a trip to the local bakery in March, located near their home in Parwan's capital Charikar.

The next time they saw her was one week ago, lying dead on a hospital bed. A video filmed on their mobile phone last Monday at her funeral shows the teenager's bruised face swathed in white sheets.

“My daughter always said she wouldn't stop studying, and would one day become important, having to travel to work in a convoy of cars,” Sabera told Reuters in her spartan living room, where flies buzzed over ruby red carpets.

“But now she is under a tonne of clay,” she said, prompting her husband, retired intelligence official Abdul Fatah, to wipe a tear from his wrinkled eyes.

Tamana was forcibly married to her cousin after refusing his advances for months, they say, adding she was beaten and killed for being a “disobedient” wife, unable to hide unhappiness at her plight.

Reuters could not independently verify the family's claims, but police in Charikar said they believe Tamana was intentionally poisoned, although cannot say with certainty until the results of the autopsy come later this month.

No one has been arrested over Tamana's killing, but the alleged killer's sister was given as a bride to Tamana's brother as compensation, abiding by the brutal Afghan practice 'baad', which is widespread despite Karzai criminalising it in 2009.

She is one of eight women killed in Parwan since March including two in Bagram, home to a major US base, who were shot to death.

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Comments (11) Closed

Jul 16, 2012 02:25pm
Leaving everything to Allah's mercy and keep living a life of coward by stander is digracing Allah for all that he has given us All that is necessary for the triumph of the evil is for enough good people to do nothing. By doing nothing about it, we are silently being accomplice in crime and allowing the slow disgraceful death of our faith.
Jul 16, 2012 11:17am
This is the only possible outcome to the path that 'we' have chosen.
omer khan shaheen
Jul 16, 2012 02:52pm
We Afghan's as a race are confusing Islam with our pre Islamic culture and unfortunately we are bringing shame not only to our selves but importantly to Islam also. Prophet Mohammad PBUH would have been in tears if he were alive today and seen what we have become both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. May Allah bless us all with his "Rahma"
Jul 16, 2012 11:56am
The gruesome picture that depicts the state of mind of an average Afghani. Alas; humanity is losing rapidly against the irrationally and insanity. May the God bless the soul of that young girl and I hope very much so that this girl in the day of judgement will be able to avenge her murder and no appeal will be entertained by the Almighty against the murderer. The Almighty’s decisions will be just and final and unworthy of appeal.
Jul 16, 2012 03:22pm
Only Muslims can prevent this ghastly tragedy if they stand united against using (abusing) Islam in defending 'honor killing'. A house divided on this issue shall remain fortified against evil designs of illeterate and zealots.
Iftikhar Husain
Jul 16, 2012 03:57pm
This is a brutal murder the people who have carried out this terrible must punished. It looks we have gone back to dark ages.
Jul 16, 2012 04:30pm
Medevial mind set. frozen in time .
Jul 16, 2012 04:56pm
There is end of another story , we just pray for this little angel. would that all muslims read this Hadees only once ; "To get the education is obligation for all men , women and children".
Jul 16, 2012 10:53pm
we are still in evolutionary process for becoming human from beast. The world will have to wait for some centuries more so that our evolutionary process completes & we began to look like human. At that stage some change can be expected.
Jul 16, 2012 11:40pm
Brutal incident after brutal incident continues to happen. More news gets published, and much of the public gets outraged again and again. Most unfortunately, what we do not see is a strong, outspoken, concerted action by either government -- Afghan or Pakistani. Apparently the government looks weakly away in some other direction. How sad.
Aug 05, 2012 05:35pm
And another woman is handed over as if she were property - the poor girl who was murdered is not the only victim.