Word has arrived from Kabul of a major development in the case of Sahar Gul, the 15-year-old girl rescued from terrible abuse by her in-laws and featured in a recent Unreported World documentary, which you can still see in the UK on Channel 4‘s video on demand service 4OD.
You may recall how her abusers were dramatically set free after just 18 months in jail when they appealed. Sahar Gul took the case back to court together with her American lawyer Kimberley Motley a few days ago and has just been given the judgement. It is a victory for her – but a complex one.
Kimberley says they are still translating the document and checking the precise meaning, but it appears the court decided that the mother-in-law and father-in-law should get five years in prison.
The sister-in-law’s acquittal was affirmed but the court agreed that the husband, Sahar Gul’s brother (who arranged the forced marriage), and brother-in-law should all be prosecuted too.
The court also advised that claims for marriage annulment (Sahar Gul was well below the legal age for marriage) and damages should be heard in civil court. The next steps will be to try to get those people arrested and that will prove difficult as the husband’s location in unknown and the others may disappear too.
So Sahar Gul becomes the first victim of domestic violence in Afghanistan to bring criminal and civil action herself against her abusers.
She is said to be “very happy”. That, says Kimberley, is the true victory.