KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- An Afghan religious cleric accused of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in a mosque was given 20 years in prison by a court in Kabul Saturday.
Mullah Mohammad Amin was prosecuted under the 2009 Elimination of Violence Against Women law, the New York Times reports. Before the passage of the act, rape was not a crime in Afghanistan, but adultery was. Victims of sexual assault were often punished along with their attackers.
Amin's attorneys tried to use a Sharia Law defense for their client, characterizing the crime as adultery, but a judge rejected the idea, citing the fact that the girl would also recieve the 100-lash punishment for the offense.
"She cannot commit adultery; she is a child," Judge Mohammad Suliman Rasuli said. "This is rape."
The rape occurred in May, and the victim's family considered killing the girl for honor's sake -- a common practice in parts of the country -- but an Afghan women's rights group intervened and persuaded the family to support the girl, whose name was withheld for safety reasons.
The same group, Women for Afghan Women, arranged for her medical treatment for wounds sustained during the rape.
Wearing a veil, the girl stood in the courtroom as the prosecutor recounted the mullah's confession and medical reports of her injuries. She spoke only once to call Amin a "liar," "dirt," and a "vampire" when the mullah argued that the girl had seduced him.
Jamila Azizi, an activist with the Development and Support of Afghan Women and Children Organization, told the Times that Amin deserved the same.
"How and why raping this little girl earns him only prison and they had the death penalty, I don't understand," she said. "He ruined her for life."