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Police: Afghan girl, 15, locked in basement, starved, tortured

By Masoud Popalzai, CNN
updated 1:18 PM EST, Thu December 29, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police say they are waiting for the girl to recover to talk to her
  • The girl, 15, was married off to a 30-year-old man
  • Police intervene after her parents had not seen her
  • Zarifi: The case highlights how women continue to suffer

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Police in Afghanistan say they have rescued a 15-year-old girl who was locked up in the basement of her in-laws' house, starved and had her nails pulled out.

Authorities in the northern Baghlan province said they were aware of reports that the girl was tortured after she refused to be forced into prostitution. But, they said, they were waiting for her to fully recover to talk to her and learn more.

The girl, Sahar Gul, was married off to a 30-year-old man about seven months ago. After her parents reported not seeing her for months, police launched their investigation, said Baghlan police official Jawid Basharat.

"After police rescued her from a dark room of her in-laws' house, we saw her nails had been pulled out by her husband. And she said with broken voice that her husband used to cut her flesh using pliers," Basharat said.

The girl was also denied food, he said.

Rahima Zarifi, director of the Women's Affairs Department in Baghlan, said Sahar was immediately hospitalized.

"She was in a very bad condition when I met her," Zarifi said. "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."

Police have arrested Sahar's in-laws, but her husband managed to flee.

The case, Zarifi said, highlights how women continue to suffer in parts of Afghanistan despite overall progress since the fall of the Taliban.

In the second quarter of this year, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) registered 1,026 cases of violence against women. Last year, 2,700 cases were recorded.

Earlier this month, gunmen attacked and sprayed an Afghan family with acid in their home after the father rejected a man's bid to marry his teenage daughter.

In another case, a 21-year-old, identified only as Gulnaz for her own protection, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after she reported that her cousin's husband had raped her.

Her plight attracted international attention when it came out that she had agreed to marry her attacker to gain her freedom and legitimize a daughter conceived in the attack.

She was eventually freed, following the president's intervention.

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