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Tortured Afghan girl suffering in hospital, aid worker says

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 3:57 AM EST, Sat January 7, 2012
Badly beaten and traumatized Sahar Gul, who refused to be sold into prostitution, gets medical care in an Afghanistan hospital.
Badly beaten and traumatized Sahar Gul, who refused to be sold into prostitution, gets medical care in an Afghanistan hospital.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sahar Gul is found by police locked in the basement of her in-laws' house
  • The teenager is starved, beaten and her nails are pulled out
  • Her in-laws abused her after she refused to be forced into prostitution, aid workers say

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A 15-year-old girl allegedly tortured by her in-laws in Afghanistan after she refused to be forced into prostitution is not doing well in hospital, aid workers say.

Sahar Gul was rescued by police last month in the country's northern Baghlan province after she was locked in the basement of her in-laws' house, starved and her nails pulled out.

She is safe, but signs of the abuse she's suffered remain all too clear, said Wazhma Frogh of the Afghan Women's Network.

Sahar is too weak to move her body, which has black bruise marks all over from being beaten, and the nurses gave her diapers because she can't get to the toilet, Frogh said.

The girl's eyes are bruised and she can't speak. Her hair was also cut short by her in-laws as a punishment after she refused to sleep with other men.

Afghan girl found tortured

A photograph provided by the Afghan Women's Network shows her asleep in a hospital bed, the bruising on her face obvious and her head bandaged.

The mental trauma she suffered is also affecting her, and is under medication to help her deal with it, Frogh said.

"We've also provided her with a trauma counselor because she is very traumatized and even when I wanted to take her hand, she resisted," despite being unconscious, Frogh said.

Because the teenager was beaten and assaulted, she added, "now she doesn't want anyone to even touch her."

Last month, authorities in Baghlan said they rescued the girl after hearing reports that she 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.

Sahar 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, Baghlan police official Jawid Basharat said at the time.

Meanwhile, Sahar's father-in-law, mother-in-law and sister-in-law have been arrested but her husband -- who Frogh said is thought to be a soldier serving in Helmand province -- has not been caught.

The Women's Network is determined to do its best to ensure she gets the care she needs -- but Frogh warned that her recovery won't be easy.

"She needs proper food, proper care that our government's hospitals don't have, therefore we have been collecting donations to provide to the hospital to buy her good food, clothing and other basic needs," she said.

"We also have to think of her shelter once she is back into normal life, which is going to take some months."

At the same time, the Women's Network has found a lawyer for Sahar and has persuaded the Afghan authorities to move the investigation to Kabul, where there will be less influence from the local community, Frogh said.

It has also contacted the attorney general to appeal for a faster investigation before the girl's in-laws are released from custody.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called for the abuse to be "seriously investigated," his office said in a statement Sunday.

CNN's Masoud Popalzai contributed to this report.

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