“She was a victim of family violence,” said General Mustafa Andarabi, the Police Chief of Ghor province. Zahra’s husband was involved in the incident, he added. He fled the house. However, we have Zahra’s father in-law and mother in-law in custody,” Andarabi said.
Her 45-year-old father, Mohammed Azam said that he came to the capital, Kabul, to seek justice for his daughter Zarah. He told The Associated Press that she was tortured and set on fire by her husband’s family last week. She died in a Kabul burns hospital on Saturday, July 16. Mohammad Saber Nasib, a physician said she suffered third-degree burns, down to the muscles and bones.
Azam said Zarah’s killing was in revenge after he had eloped two years ago with a young cousin of his daughter’s husband. According to him, his daughter’s in-laws had struck a marriage deal with him, letting him marry the cousin in payment for a debt they owed him for construction work. But they later reneged on the deal, he said, after promising the cousin to another man for more money.
Azam said he had no hope for justice in lawless Ghor.
“The culprits should be brought to justice, my daughter’s blood must not go in vain,” he said.
Ruqia Naiel, a senator from Ghor province, said that Zahra’s father complained to the provincial judiciary about his daughter being ill-treated in her husband’s house, but no one listened to him.
The girl had been married when she was 12 and had been ill-treated since.” she said.
The practice of trading young women to pay debts (baad) is illegal in Afghanistan, and Azam himself could face prosecution for engaging in the practice.
On Monday, about 50 people, including Azam, members of his family and women’s rights activists, rallied in western Kabul, calling for justice. Women’s rights activist Veeda Saghari, who attended the demonstration, said violence against women is largely ignored by Afghanistan’s judicial sector.
“That is why all kinds of violence against women such as acid throwing, beating, stoning, informal community tribunal verdicts, burning, forced divorces, forced marriages, forced pregnancies, forced abortions have reached a peak,” she said.
Afghanistan faces serious human rights issues, including physical and sexual violence against women and so-called honor killings that often involve immolation.
Photo credit: The New York Times