Cultural differences lead to what Americans perceive as terrible atrocities and disregard of human rights. In Afghanistan, just such an occurrence has recently caught the attention of the American media. A young woman, known only as Gulnaz to the public, has been in an Afghan prison for the past two years on an adultery charge due to being raped by a married man (Popalzai, 2011). The original sentence was 12 years, but has been reduced to 3 in recent months. Gulnaz was presented with two options by the Afghanistan government: Marry your rapist to legitimize your daughter, or remain in prison, constantly under threat of violence from the community. Needless to say, neither of these options seems ideal.
In America there is no crime of adultery, and female rape victims are not prosecuted based on the status of violent men who attack them. However, Afghanistan is another world, celebrates a different religion and lives by different rules than Americans; how much can we interfere without being too nosy? A petition was sent to the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, last Sunday with almost 5,000 signatures pleading for Gulnaz’s release (Paton, 2011). The President will be meeting with his council to discuss the matter, though he says that he would rather be sure that Gulnaz has a safe place to be before releasing her.
Although this issue is atrocious to Americans and backwards according to our justice system, even our own reporters did not touch on the man who attacked Gulnaz in any way. Isn’t he guilty? Shouldn’t he have to answer to somebody, even if that somebody is not his government? The only mention of him is that he was the husband of Gulnaz’s cousin and he assured the local courts that violence against Gulnaz by his own relatives was a nonissue.
Luckily, Gulnaz has confirmed the existence of a haven for her to live at upon release. Although the laws there will taint her and her daughter, it is the hope of over 5,000 people that she lives in peace and without persecution as the result of an attack on her person that she was helpless to defend against.
Paton, Nick. (2011). Petition seeks release of Afghan rape victim. November 27. Thedenverchannel.com – See related news for link.
Popalzai, Masoud. (2011). Karzai: Afghan rape victim free to decide if she wants to stay in prison. December 1. CNN.com – See related news for link.