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. j-son

    is it just me, or does it seem that Afghan men (and many others in that part of the world) seem to be incredibly insecure in their masculinity/manhood? some tribes are just primitive and vicious...it's really sad

    October 19, 2012 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. WatrGrrl

    It's a shame that the civilized world can't just jettison the Muslim population to a distant sun about to go nova...

    October 19, 2012 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. Mike

    This ugly story makes you realize how far-fetched is the notion that we can rehabilitate this region and turn them into a sort of democracy.

    October 19, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. BG

    Why haven't we nuked this place? Oh.....forgive me, that would be wrong????

    October 19, 2012 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. Joe

    Another peace loving muslim

    October 19, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff

    This is the kind of stuff that we are fighting against over there. I think it's horrible. I also think that the coalition forces need to adjust their fire a tad and redirect it towards ALL of the extremist muslim wackjobs over there, militant or not. They need to go the way of the Dodo. Until then, there will always be some other nutbag waiting in tthe wings to take over a spot that we vacate with a well placed sniper shot, or drone attack.

    October 19, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  7. derp

    We would be more successful trying to bring peace, democracy and stability to the silver back gorillas of central africa.

    October 19, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  8. Downeaster

    Those of you using this horrible incident as a way to bash Islam: I worked in Afghanistan for 2 years as a contractor. This has NOTHING to do with the faith. It's tribalism that is at the core of the oppression of women in Afghanistan (and other places). The religion of Islam actually empowers women, and if you take the time to talk to a Muslima (female Muslim) you'll realize that very quickly. Remember, it was Islam that gave the woman the right to refuse an arranged marriage, divorce their husband, and own their own property (and business), more than 500 years before women in Europe got those rights. This sick mother-in-law and cousin of the poor victim have their equivalents in countries around the work– including the west.

    October 19, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |

      Islam, like all religions, are not evil in philosophy but they are a strong tool to control people

      October 19, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  9. Davismukalazi

    WAS it a crime to refuse?

    October 19, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. High Way

    Afghan religion and culture is at the core of all their problems. It could not be changed over night or even a decade. It will take several generations and many sacrifices to change that like Europe did in the middle ages. We have enough problems in our own country and we don't need the ones of others. If they cause us troubles they will face our wrath and justice.

    October 19, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  11. The Truth Commission

    These people are non-human beasts. They are operating on an obsolete thought process, an obsolete framework. Their human consciousness needs to be upgraded. If you behead anyone, you're a beast in human form, a non-Sentient Being. If you kill human life, you're a non-universal organism. You're possessed.

    October 19, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. GenXcynic

    This is disgusting. Humans are so violent – and these folks probably never played video games or listened to heavy metal! Imagine what they'd be like after that mess!

    Of course, here in America, they would have just nagged the girl and bashed her on FB. The men would have to do the physical part. It's a cultural thing.

    October 19, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  13. TheBigSarge

    and there are those who still stand up today and defend the desire of the muslim population of the united states to enact sharia law? we dont follow hindu law, jewish law, german law, french law, budhist law or any others. why the heck do you think we should follow sharia law, or allow it to be practiced in our nation?


    October 19, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Cuervo Jones

      @Big Goober who said that? for real. cant find it?

      October 22, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |

    Hey Obama, please send BILLIONS MORE of my tax dollars to these prehistoric idiots in the middle east.

    October 19, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • What?

      But the BILLIONS that Bush sent there were money well spent? Not to mention IRAQ...

      October 19, 2012 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  15. JEN


    October 19, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
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