Butchered in the name of honour

Maryam, 14, was raped by a man in the Yakawlang District of Bamyan Province, central Afghanistan, five months ago. Her mother and brother used razor blades to cut the girl open, take out the foetus, and bury it alive to hide the disgrace, according to Habiba Surabi, the governor of Bamyan.

Maryam had initially concealed the rape, fearing this could devastate her family and possibly end her own life. But five months later, when it became clear that she was carrying a baby, her family decided to “remedy” the problem.

“The baby was alive when they took it from my body… and buried it as it was crying,” Maryam was quoted in the local media as saying.

The “surgery” was conducted violently, recklessly and without any medical arrangements.

“She was butchered like an animal,” said a physician at Yakawlang hospital where the victim was in intensive care.

After the painful “surgery” which lasted almost an hour, Maryam’s abdomen was stitched up with an ordinary needle and thread, medical experts said. Dirty wounds led to her condition deteriorating rapidly. Five days later, she was reportedly taken to hospital half-dead.

“They [her parents] said she was bitten by a dog in the stomach a few days a go,” Ehsan Shaheer, director of Bamyan’s health department, told IRIN from Bamyan on 8 January.

A quick look at her butchered body convinced doctors it was not a dog that had ripped Maryam’s body apart.

“We informed the police and other authorities, and now her mother and brother are in custody,” said Shaheer. The alleged rapist has also been arrested, local people said.

Shaheer said Maryam’s life had been saved but extended treatment and care - unavailable in Bamyan Province - was needed for her to make a full recovery.

Photo: Khaled Nahiz/ IRIN
Violence against women and girls has escalated significantly, according to AIHRC

“Horrific crimes”

Confirming Maryam’s tragedy, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said it had registered over 2,000 cases of violence against women in the past 10 months - a marked increase on previous years.

“We’re particularly worried about the worsening nature and characteristics of violence against women,” Soraya Rahim Subhrang, a women’s rights commissioner at the AIHRC, told IRIN, adding that women and girls were often victims of “horrific crimes”.

A widespread culture of impunity and lack of support for victims of gender violence has further exacerbated the situation, Subhrang said, adding “The culture of violence has increased because there is no fear of the law.”

The AIHRC called on the government to bring the man who raped Maryam as well as her mother and brother to “transparent and unbiased” justice.