Boy, eight, and girl, nine killed in horrific execution
Father decided to spare their two-year-old daughter
By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 12:52 EST, 4 July 2012 | UPDATED: 13:42 EST, 4 July 2012
A 30-year-old woman and two of her children were beheaded overnight in Afghanistan’s east, police said, in what appeared to be the latest in a rapidly growing trend of so-called honour killings.
Police said they suspected the woman Serata’s divorced husband of barging into her house in the capital of Ghazni province and murdering her, alongside their eight-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter.
‘The children saw the killer take their mother’s head off, so he killed them too,’ a local policeman said, adding that the attacker had spared Sereta’s two-year-old daughter.
Activists say there has been a sharp rise in violent attacks on women in Afghanistan over the past year.
Beheaded: The situation for women in Afghanistan has worsened this year, according to activists
They blame President Hamid Karzai’s waning attention to women’s rights as his government prepares for the exit of most foreign troops in 2014 and seeks to negotiate with the Taliban, Afghanistan’s former Islamist rulers.
Excluding Serata’s beheading, there have been 16 cases of ‘honour killings’ recorded across the country over March and April, the first two months of the Afghan new year, according to Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).
This compares to the 20 cases recorded for all of last year, said commissioner Suraya Subhrang, blaming increased insecurity and weak rule of law for the sharp rise. Since AIHRC started recording such killings in 2001, there have never been more than 20 cases a year.
‘And there are many that go unreported. Men make a quick decision in their own courts to kill a girl and hold a prayer for her the next day,’ Subhrang said.
There have also been other instances of horrific acts of violence, such as a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy who were killed in an acid attack because they were friends in wasteland in the Ghazni province in southern Afghanistan at the end of March.
VIOLENCE AND DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN
The charity Human Rights Watch which is dedicated to defending and protecting human rights around the world recently published a report looking at violence and discrimination against women in Afghanistan.
It found that attacks and threats continue and frequently focus on women in public life, school girls, and the staff of girls’ schools.
The incarceration of women and girls for ‘moral crimes’ such as running away from home also continues to be a major concern, with an estimated half of the approximately 700 women and girls in jail and prison facing such charges.
Afghanistan at present has 14 shelters, each able to house an average of around 20 to 25 women and their children.
This does not meet even a small fraction of the need in a country where an estimated 70 to 80 percent of marriages are forced and 87 percent of women face at least one form of physical, sexual, or psychological violence or forced marriage in their lifetimes.
Serata divorced her husband Mohammad Arif, 38, a year ago after enduring almost a decade of domestic abuse, said Shukria Wali, head of Ghazni’s department of women’s affairs, which is attached to the ministry in Kabul.
Police said they were still hunting for Arif. Violent crimes against women often go unpunished in Afghanistan, with activists blaming police carelessness, corruption and a growing atmosphere of impunity.
Officers investigating the case described it as an honour killing – a phrase used to describe the murder of mostly women and girls by people who accuse them of besmirching a family’s reputation.
Afghan women have won back basic rights in education, voting and work since the austere rule of the Taliban was toppled just over a decade ago, though fear now mounts that freedoms will be traded away as Kabul and Washington seek talks with the Islamist group to secure a peaceful end to the war.
Donors are expected to commit just under $4 billion in development aid annually to Afghanistan at a summit in Tokyo on Sunday, though the European Union – the biggest contributor – has said maintaining its support will be difficult if women’s rights are not protected.
During its five-year reign, the Taliban banned women from most work, denied them the right to vote and ordered that they wear a head-to-toe burqa when out of the house.
Despite more than 10 years of war and billions of dollars in foreign aid, the country remains desperately poor. Female illiteracy rates in rural areas are above 90 percent and child marriages are still widespread despite being illegal.
Reversal: Afghan president Hamid Karzai has backed a strict code of conduct for women in the country
In March this year President Karzai endorsed a strict ‘code of conduct’ issued by clerics which, among other things allowed men to beat their wives.
The document also promotes segregation of the sexes and allows husbands to beat wives in certain circumstances.
Activists are furious that gains made in women’s rights since the 2001 invasion and ensuing occupation are being used as a bargaining chip with Islamic extremists.
Prior to the 2001 U.S. invasion, girls were banned from going to school and women forced to wear burkas to conceal them from head to toe.
Women were also banned from venturing from their homes and being escorted by a male relative.
Similarly, the new ‘code of conduct’ says women should not travel without a male companion and they should not mingle with men in places like schools, markets or offices.
Wife-beating is only prohibited if there is no ‘Shariah-compliant reason’, it said.