Jailed Afghan rape victim to be freed with no conditions
Published Friday, December 2, 2011 8:21AM EST
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 6:45AM EDT
An Afghan woman who was raped by a relative, then put in jail for adultery, is being pardoned and released with no conditions, her lawyer told CTV's Canada AM.
The woman, known only as Gulnaz, was initially sentenced to two years in jail for "adultery by force." That sentence was later increased to 12 years, but was then reduced to three years on appeal.
Her attacker, a cousin by marriage, is serving a seven-year prison term for the crime.
Kimberley Motley, an American lawyer working in Afghanistan, said earlier reports that her client was being released only on the condition she marry her attacker, are not true.
"Her release from prison is an unconditional release and I want to be crystal clear, she does not have to marry her attacker to get out of prison," Motley told CTV's Canada AM from Kabul.
"The president has allowed for her clemency and has allowed for her early release and there are no conditions to her being released from prison."
Gulnaz became pregnant after the attack, and gave birth to a daughter while in the Badam Bagh prison in Kabul, almost a year ago.
Motley said she asked her client whether she would choose to marry the father of her child, if she was given the free choice. Gulnaz told her in "no uncertain terms," Motley said, that she would not choose to marry him.
"She has communicated the only reason she would marry her attacker would be to help reestablish honour for herself but more importantly to establish honour for her daughter. That's what she's communicated to me and to others as well."
Roughly 6,000 people signed a petition demanding Gulnaz' release.
Her story was also featured in a documentary about women in prison in Afghanistan that was commissioned by the European Union. However, the release of the film was later blocked over fears of reprisal attacks against the women who took part.
Motley said Gulnaz will be protected upon her release.
Roughly half of the country's 600 adult female inmates are in prison for similar offences, considered "moral crimes."
In Afghan culture, women who have children out of wedlock are often shunned by their community, regardless of the circumstances.
"According to other women who have been in similar situations it can be difficult," Motley said.
"However in Gulnaz' situation she does have a place to go when she is released, it's a place we are not going to disclose to people and it's a place that is going to provide for her security to ensure she does not have to worry about issues from the community that might (compromise) her security or to her daughter's security."
When asked the type of man she would like to marry, given the free choice, Gulnaz said she would like to marry a man who is educated.
Motley said many Afghan rape victims become victimized a second time under the country's judicial system, which doesn't differentiate between those who willingly commit adultery and those who are raped.
She said she hopes Gulnaz' case serves as an "indirect sort of reprimand" to the judiciary, and results in the laws being updated.