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Sahar Gul, Tortured Afghan Girl, Says In-Laws Should Have Received Longer Sentences

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15-year-old Sahar Gul was rescued from the home of her in-laws after being tortured for months. Last week, she stood before an Afghan court to see her relatives sentenced to 10 years in prison for torture, abuse, and human rights violations.

For Gul, however, 10 years isn't nearly enough. "They should have been given 50 years," Gul told CNN journalists.

In a video report by CNN, Gul describes the abuses against her, explaining how she was tortured with hot pokers and tied up in the basement by her husband's family. Her in-laws reportedly broke her fingers and tore out her fingernails in an effort to force her into prostitution.

"When they put electric shocks on my feet, I felt like I was going to die at that moment. I screamed and that's how our neighbors realized there was something happening. For one day and night I was unconscious, feeling dead," she told CNN.


Gul's case highlights the ongoing struggle to safeguard women's rights in Afghanistan, a country where the UN agency UN Women estimates that half of all girls are forced to marry before they turn 15.

Though the fall of the Taliban 10 years ago heralded improvements in women's rights, concerns remain that these advances may be rolled back when the United States pulls out of the country in 2014.

Last October, an Action Aid survey found that 86% of Afghan women were "worried about a return to a Taliban-style government," according to the BBC. More recently, activists warned that the Afghan government may be withdrawing support for women's rights to ease peace talks with the Taliban.

Some argue that cultural barriers in Afghanistan extend beyond the Taliban's influence. The Christian Science Monitor notes:

Lack of enthusiasm for girls' education, limited impact of development funding, regulation at women's shelters, and government malfeasance all seem to point to reluctance among some Afghanis to let go of traditional views of women.

Gul, however, feels a more immediate threat to her safety in Afghanistan.

"I want to go abroad," she told CNN. "If I sit here, they [my in-laws and husband, who remains at large] will find me. I want to go to school and study, to become a doctor or a prosecutor, so I can give punishment by myself to these sort of people. "

Read CNN's full report here.


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