OK I know stories like this are now dog bites man. But its important to realize the frequency of these things. This is not an isolated incident. For it to reach the western mainstream press usually means there was no way to actually ignore the story as tens of thousands of these happen and in the west as well. The remarkable thing here is that the man was jailed for killing his infant son. The question remains: how long will he actually serve time and what would be the case if the child was female?
Woman raped, saw son die – then jailed
May 01, 2008 12:08am
A WOMAN who was trafficked across the border from Pakistan with her son, 3, was handed to an Afghan who raped her, then beat the toddler to death as she watched.
He was jailed for 20 years for murder – but the woman, Rukhma, was jailed, too.
She had put up with her mistreatment for three months before going to authorities.
But in December, Rukhma, who doesn’t know her age but looks younger than 20, was given a four-year sentence for adultery and “escaping her house” in Pakistan.
The Taliban’s fall six years ago heralded new rights for women: to go to school or get a job.
Their rights are now enshrined in the constitution.
But except for a small urban elite, a woman fleeing domestic violence or accusing a man of rape herself often ends up seen as the guilty party.
“Why am I here? I’m innocent,” Rukhma said, crying in a musty cell and cradling a baby daughter she bore in jail.
“It is cruel to have your son killed before your eyes and then to be imprisoned.”
In parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, a woman who runs away is typically suspected of having taken a lover and can be prosecuted for adultery.
Leaving home without family permission may be deemed an offence.
The chief prosecutor of eastern Nangarhar province, who oversaw Rukhma’s case, suggested she got off lightly.
“If my wife goes to the bazaar without my permission, I will kill her. This is our culture,” Abdul Qayum shouted scornfully.
His colleagues laughed approvingly. “This is Afghanistan, not America,” Mr Qayum said.
Kamala Janakiram, a UN human rights officer, said that in 70 to 80 per cent of cases she has seen, a woman complaining of domestic violence is charged as a criminal.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime said many victims are forced to marry attackers or jailed for adultery, as proving rape is virtually impossible.
Women can end up in prison simply on the basis of gossip, said Manizha Naderi, director of Women for Afghan Women.
Fear of returning to a violent spouse drives some women to suicide.
Rukhma is still hoping an appeal will free her.
Prosecutor Qayum in unrepentant: “She spent several nights with the man. She committed adultery. It was rape, but the woman is also guilty.”