Afghan women jailed for moral crimes

March 28, 2012 at 11:59 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, March 28 (UPI) -- Human Rights Watch called on the government of Afghanistan Wednesday to release some 400 women and girls serving jail time for committing "moral crimes."

Executive Director Kenneth Roth said Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the country's allies should act decisively to end "this abusive and discriminatory practice."

"It is shocking that 10 years after the overthrow of the Taliban, women and girls are still imprisoned for running away from domestic violence or forced marriage," Roth said. "Even the most horrific abuses suffered by women seem to elicit nothing more than a shrug from prosecutors, despite laws criminalizing violence against women."

Women and girls interviewed by Human Rights Watch for a 120-page report described abuses including forced and underage marriage, beatings, stabbings, burnings, rapes, forced prostitution, kidnapping and murder threats.

The group said it conducted the interviews at three Afghan prisons and three juvenile detention facilities.

"It is long past time for Afghanistan to act on its promise to overhaul laws that make Afghan women second-class citizens," Roth said.

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