A mullah who raped a 10-year-old girl in his mosque was sentenced to 20 years in prison after a dramatic trial here in Kabul on Saturday during which his accuser, weeping and shaking, summoned the courage to confront him.
The girl’s injuries, the court heard, were horrific (upsetting description, fair warning):
The rape had been so violent that it caused a break in the wall between the vagina and rectum, a fistula, which had to be repaired surgically.
Chances are that if the victim had been of the age of consent, the judge would’ve treated the rape as mere adultery, just as the mullah’s defense lawyers argued he should do in this case; a conviction for adultery would result in both the rapist and the girl undergoing a whipping.
“She cannot commit adultery; she is a child,” [the judge] said. “This is rape.”
Women’s activists attending the packed proceedings hailed the sentence as a victory because the mullah was successfully prosecuted under a 2009 law meant to fight violence against women in a country where rape had long been treated as adultery, implicitly placing partial blame on the victim. The judge in this case dismissed the mullah’s Shariah law defense.
This part, at least, cheered me:
The prosecutor did not call the girl as a witness, but she insisted on being heard. “You shamed me, liar, you destroyed my life, you brought shame to my father,” she called out. Addressing the judge, she said, “Please, director, hang him.”
And turning again to her rapist:
“Hey liar, hey liar,” she said. “God hate you, you are dirt, you are dirt, you are a vampire.”
The New York Times says that the girl’s name is being withheld withheld “for her safety outside her village,” referencing what some Islamists would still like to do to her for her “adultery.”
And the danger to her life is, or was, impossibly close.
After the rape occurred last May, family members of the girl had been overheard plotting to kill her out of shame at what had happened, according to the police and women’s activists in Kunduz. Such “honor killings” of rape victims are common in Afghanistan.
Her father says that the family never planned to murder the girl. An uncle, Mohammad Rasoul, commented:
“She was raped and is a child, and if we killed her, how would we answer to God on the day of judgment?”
God, God, God. How about your own conscience, you detestable creep?
During the court proceedings,
The victim’s father neither looked at nor spoke to his daughter…, and when they were over, he turned his back on her and walked out. She followed him at a respectful distance.
Into a lifetime of reproach, oppression, and misogyny — if she’s lucky and manages to stay alive.
(Image via Shutterstock)