EU censors jailed Afghan rape victim – and the rapist says ‘thank you’

I thought I’d flag up a story in The Times newspaper yesterday that highlights how far the rights of Afghan women have slipped down the agenda in Afghanistan. One of the justifications for going to war in 2001 was to “free the Afghan women” from the “barbaric” Taliban. Despite this pledge, little has changed for women in the 10 years since the US-led invasion.

The Times’ story is about how the European Union banned a film it commissioned on the rights of Afghan women. The censored film documents the cases of a number of Afghan women jailed for “moral crimes”. These “crimes” are usually committed by women who try to run away from their homes because they’ve suffered horrific torture and abuse at the hands of their husbands or male relatives.

One of the women featured in the film, Gulnaz, was raped and impregnated by a relative. She reported her rape to the police, who promptly locked her in jail for committing adultery. One and a half years later Gulnaz is still in jail, although she will soon be released because she has agreed to marry the rapist (a condition set by the judge).

Instead of publicising the suffering of women locked up for moral crimes the EU decided to prevent the film from seeing the light of day. Read the Times’s story here.

The Times followed this story with another today. The paper quoted Gulnaz’s rapist, who said that the EU had “done a good thing” by banning the film. The rights of women have slipped so far down the agenda in Afghanistan that we now have convicted rapists thanking the EU for concealing the suffering of women here.

As one senior rights activist told me: “It’s all about withdrawing the troops now. That’s the main focus for the foreigners here. Everything else, especially the rights of women, has pretty much been forgotten”.


There’s now a petition calling for the immediate release of Gulnaz. It has already attracted more than 5,000 signatures and will be sent to President Hamid Karzai. Sign here


  1. Homayoon Shirzad · · Reply

    It doesn’t mean anything to me! I know West is proud of what they call fundemental change they have brought in the way of living of Afghan women.. But that is wrong.. still women are sold against cash, they are being killed by husband, forced marriage is there… women get bitten by their husband and father almost once a week… Waste food is given to the women in their houses… so what West communities have done?????? In fact they have doubled the magnitudes of these problems…. Best was to work with the district judges, governmnets and organize schemes to bring men of the soceity in one place and get their signatures that they will not violate women rights and then assign women affair village officers to minotor the situation and accoridngly punishments should be given to those viole the MoUs…. But nothing west or the AFg government has done……

  2. What these wars have done is draw the attention to the slave status of women under Islam.

    Men and the media have romanticized their condition so that the fact that half this planet’s female population are still slaves never bothered anyone in the west. Foolish western women actually married these oppressors and saw their daughters sold into slavery.

    Genital mutilation, rape, child brides, battery, stoning — none of it was ever part of the women’s rights discussion. The separation of church and secular society had been blurred.

    Now we are enlightened.

    It took thousands of years for western women to gain rights that are still under constant attack. 20 years of intervention in these slave holding Islamic states will not liberate women. But blood has started the process and it is the duty of western feminists to fight with Islamic women for liberation not to throw up their hands and say nothing has changed. You might as well just wear a sign that says, I love the patriarchy.

  3. I'mtoobusysurviving · · Reply

    A happily married man told me that Western women could bring all this BS to a halt in a hearbeat. He said they just have to have a significant portion go on sex strike. I’m not so sure because apparently over 50% of men don’t have a date let along a woman in their home and bed regularly.

    So perhaps they have to be a bit more public in their protest and have an actual IMPACT on people instead of asking nicely or screaming like a shrew. I mean, that never won anyone any respect or rights much.

    So how about just wearing a burkha all the time except when required to dress another way for work. Only go out to get necessities and to work. Otherwise hide in your home with the curtains drawn. Do not leave the house without the company of a male relative or your husband, and even then, remember to wear your burkha. Do not have sex outside marriage. Iff your husband supports your cause, both of you abstain from sex for say…a month to start…and see what happens….in support of this protest. If he doesn’t support your cause, don’t have sex with the jerk for two months or until the protest has got him on yours and your sisters side. Personally I hate having angry sex and there’s no law against masturbating while your husband lies next to you confused and frustrated. I mean, women know all about that anyway so…

    I bet it would take about 30% of western women doing this for a week or maybe a month before someone who likes sex and likes seeing women out and about in the world and men who like a look and a smile and a few words of company from women….stand up and say…I’m going to fight for HER instead of the war machine rich big wigs who seem to be hell bent on dividing and conquering men from women – to enslave us all to….themselves and their products…instead of RECIPROCALLY serving each others needs as most reasonable loving people want to do… anyway.

    Oh dear. Have I started a row? That’s impossible. The row has been going on since….oh never mind, whose counting.

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