Afghan President pardons three found guilty of gang-rape

– Here’s a fine story about Afghanistan – a nation our citizens are dying to defend.   But, sorry to say, their culture is in the stone-age with respect to women’s rights.

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai has pardoned three men found guilty of gang-raping a woman in the northern province of Samangan.

The woman, Sara, and her family found out about the pardon only when they saw the rapists back in their village.

“Everyone was shocked,” said Sara’s husband, Dilawar, who, like many Afghans, uses only one name. “These were men who had been sentenced by the Supreme Court, walking around freely.”

Sara’s case highlights concerns about the close relationship between the Afghan President and men accused of war crimes and human rights abuses.

The men were freed discreetly but the rape was public and brutal. It took place in September 2005, in the run-up to Afghanistan’s first democratic parliamentary elections.

The most powerful local commander, Mawlawi Islam, was running for office despite being accused of scores of murders committed during his time as a mujahideen commander in the 1980s, a Taleban governor in the 1990s, and after the fall of the Taleban in 2001. Sara said one of his subcommanders and bodyguards had been looking for young men to help in the election campaign.

“It was evening, around time for the last prayer, when armed men took my son, Islamuddin, by force. I have eyewitness statements from nine people that he was there. From that night until now, my son has never been seen.”

Dilawar said his wife publicly harangued the commander twice about their missing son.

After the second time, he said, they came for her. “The commander and three of his fighters came and took my wife out of our home and took her to their house about 200m away and, in front of these witnesses, raped her.”

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