15-Year-Old Afghan Girl Starved, Tortured in Basement of In-Law's

A 15-year-old girl has been recovered by police in the northern Afghan province of Baghlan after facing months of torture and starvation.

The girl, Sahar Gul, was reported missing by her parents and was discovered by police locked up in the basement of her in-law’s home.

“She was in very bad condition when I met her,” director of the Women’s Affairs Department Rahima Zarifi told CNN.

“The perpetrators had pulled out her hair by force. She was suffering a kind of skin disease and she didn’t even have proper clothes on,” she added.

The girl had also had her nails pulled out by her 30-year-old husband and she told police that he used pillars to cut through her flesh.

“She was beaten, her fingernails were removed and her arm was broken,” the district police chief Fazel Rahman told AFP.

Gul was married off to her husband in the neighboring Baghlan province seven months ago. She had faced torture and was locked in a basement by her husband and in-law’s for five months for defying her orders to go into prostitution.

Women’s rights and protections are guaranteed by the Afghan constitution, but Gul’s case highlights the continued plight of Afghan women and girls in the decade since the Taliban was ousted from its leadership position.

The human rights situation pertaining women has gotten better since the ousting of the Taliban, but Afghan women still face high levels of domestic violence, abuse, and discrimination at debilitating levels. Rights groups and charities continue to express concern over the rights situation, fearing that women’s rights in the country could potentially be brokered off in a peace deal with the Taliban.

In a recent survey conducted by the U.K.-based organization Action Aid, 86 percent of Afghan women surveyed expressed concern that Taliban-style rule would return to Afghanistan.

Earlier in the year, Afghanistan was voted as the worst country in the world to be a woman and landed at the bottom of Save the Children’s 2011 Mother’s Index, highlighting that Afghanistan is the most dangerous country in the world to be a mother.