October 18th, 2012
12:16 PM ET

Afghan woman slices daughter-in-law's throat for refusing prostitution, police say

[Updated Monday 11:30 a.m.] Afghan police now say that while the woman's throat was slashed, it was not fully cut off - and therefore was not technically a "beheading."

[Updated Thursday 12:16 p.m.] A young woman had her head chopped off for refusing to prostitute herself - and one of the killers was her mother-in-law, police say.

The other was the mother-in-law's cousin.  And both admit it, according to Afghan police.

To most people, the slaying of 20-year-old Mah Gul is unimaginable.

But it's just "one more incident that highlights the violent atmosphere that women and girls face in Afghanistan and the region," Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said Thursday.

The killing happened Sunday in Herat province, in southwest Afghanistan along the Iranian border.

Gul's husband is a baker.  When he left home for work, his mother and her cousin tried to force the young wife into prostitution, said Noorthan Mikvad, spokesman for Herat police.

When she wouldn't do it, they beheaded her, he said.

In a statement, Nossel said women and girls in the region "are raped, killed, forced into marriage in childhood, prevented from obtaining an education and denied their sexual and reproductive rights. Until basic human rights are guaranteed ... these horrible abuses will continue to be committed."

The U.S. State Department says some "Afghan women and girls are subjected to forced prostitution, forced marriages – including through forced marriages in which husbands force their wives into prostitution, and where they are given by their families to settle debts or disputes."

Some families even knowingly sell their children into forced prostitution, the State Department said, "including for bacha baazi – where wealthy men use groups of young boys for social and sexual entertainment."

Herat police say their investigation found that Gul's husband and father-in-law were not involved in her killing.

CNN has extensively reported on the abuse of girls and women in Afghanistan, a nation where under Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, women were banned from classrooms, politics or employment. Women who wanted to leave home had to be escorted by a male relative and were forced to wear burqas. Those who disobeyed were publicly beaten. In some parts of Afghanistan in the late 1990s, locals were encouraged to blacken the windows on their homes so women inside could not be seen.

The Afghan government, including a woman running for the presidency of the country, has tried to make it relatively easier for young women to go school. In 2004, girls were formally guaranteed a right to an education under the Afghan constitution.

Yet major problems persist and girls are in extraordinary danger in part of the country. They are terrorized walking to school. In 2009 in Peshawar, Pakistan, near Afghanistan, the Taliban issued an official edict mandating that no more girls should be able to go to school. That was after the Taliban had regained their stake in the control in the region after the 2001 invasion.

Girls and women's families sometimes abuse and kill them. In July, the Taliban executed a woman in public, justifying the killing by saying she had committed adultery.

In 2011, people around the world were appalled to learn about a then-13-year-old named Sahar Gul who had been married off to a member of the Afghan Army. Sahar said her husband raped her, and enraged that she didn't immediately conceive, her in-laws locked her in a basement for months. They tortured Sahar with hot pokers and ripped out her nails. Ultimately, she said, they wanted to force her into prostitution as punishment for failing her obligation as a woman.

Her face made famous on Time's cover, young Aesha had her nose and ears hacked off for running away from her husband's house. Aesha was brought to the United States. Her life continues to be hugely challenging as she's forever emotionally scared by the abuse she suffered.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • World
soundoff (1,034 Responses)
  1. MM

    Actually if they were truly Muslims they wouldn't be selling their children and treating their women like crap.

    October 22, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kathy Mae

      There are woman beaters and selling of children everywhere not just in Islam. That kind of stuff happen everywhere, sad but true

      October 22, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cuervo Jones

    Happens in Detroit or Houston every day.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. eva

    As horrible as this story is, and there are many that occur in Afghanistan, there are also many horrible instances of abuse against women, all over the world.
    Let's stop wasting our energies pointing the finger at one particular race or religion and call for, insist on women being valued as human beings.

    October 22, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. LOST

    These people aren't Muslims. Tribal misconduct rules their actions. When civilization fails, people's actions and conduct falls lower than foul, rabid beasts....this would include the disrespect of women by men and women.

    October 23, 2012 at 5:43 am | Report abuse |
  5. Im straightfoward and I know it

    Yay more propaganda against muslims... SO how about those priests in the catholic church, worshiping lucifer and banging boys.

    October 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Leaving one religion and blaming another one by throwing it under the bus still doesn't change the facts; religion is a major cause of stupidity and blood shed among people. If it didn't exist, I'm sure there would be a lot less people dead.

      October 29, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tiffany

    I wish they would follow this article with something like "Here is what you can do to help" because just reading about it from my comfortable couch makes me feel incredibly powerless and wasteful.

    October 26, 2012 at 6:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. Here is what will end it

    This will fix it – we evacuate all women and girls out of Afghanistan, every single one, permanently. They can be moved to less ridiculous Muslim countries as well as the US and EU. I believe that a generation without any women would make even those Taliban psychopaths rethink their positions.
    You want a solution? There you go.

    October 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • hs

      UN should do this. I am sure all the women will be more than happy to getout

      October 27, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donna

      Sadly, one of the killers was a WOMAN: the mother in law! Does she get evacuated too? And it's not clear what gender the "cousin" was either. The majority of the people in those countries are still stuck somewhere B.C.

      October 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Pepper

    These people are animals. Rabid animals that need extermination. I don't care what anyone says you don't cut someones throat because they won't let you pimp them out.

    October 27, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Paige

    After researching the author of this article, Josh Levs, I came to conclude that as a writer, his work is reliable. To me, the purpose of this article is to let the American people know what's going on around us. As Americans, we stand in our own little world, naive, and not doing a single thing about the innocent people dying in other parts of the world. Innocent Afghan women are terrorized if they show up at a school to receive an education. They are put to death if they do not do as the man says. American's need to read Josh Levs' article and do something about this. We need to get our heads out of the clouds and realize we have it made. We need to take action.

    October 31, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. ryanconners

    And people want us to believe that this area and these people are the birthplace of civilization...right.

    October 31, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Charles

    Religion in general is a Joke..Just like Santa and the Tooth Fairy....

    November 3, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sagebrush Shorty

    Let's keep reaching out to Islam with your tax dollars.

    November 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. caroline

    God should torch that country fast.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Joel

      People in these countries say exactly the same about us, we call them terrorists. Caroline, what should we call you.......
      terrorist or christian........people like you make that line harder and harder to define.

      November 12, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. caroline

    Will the mother in law be punished? What will her son and husband do about this?

    November 7, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jay

    The mother-in-law and cousin need their asses whipped. It amazes me when people have the advantage over another they are merciless but when it is time for their comuppance then these same people want mercy and understanding. I am sick to my stomach. Lastly, these same indiviuals hide behind their religion when it gets too hot.

    November 12, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
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