The Afghan rape victim who was imprisoned and gave birth to a baby behind bars has been freed from prison after receiving a pardon from President Hamid Karzai, according to her attorney.
It took prison officials two weeks to release her following Karzai’s order. She had been imprisoned for two years after being convicted of a “zina” or “moral crime.” She was originally sentenced to a twelve-year term.
The young woman, identified only as Gulnaz, has become a symbol of the hundreds of Afghan women who are believed to be languishing in prison.
However, Gulnaz’ case drew the particular ire of human rights groups around the world when judicial officials advised her to marry her rapist once released in order to avoid the stigma of being a rape victim/unwed mother in an ultra-conservative society.
The million dollar question is whether she is going to marry her attacker, said Kimberley Motley, Gulnaz's American lawyer, according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
But he [the rapist] has five more years to serve and as far as I know there has never been an Afghan wedding in jail.
Motley added that Gulnaz was pretty clear that she did not want to marry her attacker. Now she is a little bit more free to think and see what she wants, so she's saying what she really feels. She's happy that she's not in prison any more. She's pretty relieved.
Motley also told BBC that her client and the baby are now in an undisclosed area in Kabul for her own safety away from the blaze of publicity.”
Motley added: She is now free to lead a normal life without the threat of further legal action. I hope this historic case will set a legal precedent for other persecuted women in Afghanistan. I would like to pay tribute to President Karzai and the Afghan justice ministries for taking the measures required to win her freedom.
However, abuse and violence against women remains an epidemic in the country. According the charity group Oxfam, an astounding 87 percent of women in Afghanistan said they have been subjected to some of form of violence and/or forced marriage in their lives.
BBC also noted that about half of Afghan female prison inmates are incarcerated, like Gulnaz, for having committed “moral crimes.”