ISSN 2330-717X

‘I Had To Run Away’: Women And Girls Imprisoned For ‘Moral Crimes’ In Afghanistan – OpEd


By Kubra Turk


Last week, on the issue of women in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch (HRW) a New York-based group published a report called “‘I Had to Run Away’: Women and Girls Imprisoned for ‘Moral Crimes’ in Afghanistan.” The 120-page report is based on interviews with 58 women and girls who have been imprisoned for “moral crimes” in Afghanistan.

According to the HRW report, moral crimes in Afghanistan usually involve adultery and fleeing home without permission. The report indicates that 400 women or girls in Afghanistan have been jailed for escaping from their families or husbands. The main reasons for running away are domestic violence or forced marriage. In addition, some of them are imprisoned because they were assumed to have cheated on their husbands (referred to as adultery).

According to report, a particularly bad scenario is the ignorance toward women in cases of domestic violence, even in the face of physical evidence, by the police, prosecutors and judges. In this respect, the report indicates that running away or fleeing home without permission is not coded as a crime in the criminal justice system of Afghanistan. However, it is significant in the sense that the Afghan Supreme Court has manipulated its judges to treat women or girls who flee as criminals. Thereby, the report underlines that the fundamental necessity at first is to have political will on behalf of the Afghan government in implementing the prosecution.

Time placed this report on the agenda and examined such situations of Afghan women under the title “Afghan Police, Courts Failing Women.” In this article, after made an analysis of the report, it is stated that earlier this month Karzai announced a blanket pardon for 400 jailed women, as the report indicates, who escaped from their homes for love or to select a husband different than who their families wanted. On this issue, the government says that they are identifying and releasing such women. But, Time underscores that neither the Ministry of Interior nor Attorney General’s Office responded to such calls.

Also, the BBC put this report on the agenda and underlined the aim of this report, which called on the government to release about 400 jailed women or girls. The BBC’s Emily Buchanan states that the lack of women’s rights under the Taliban regime justified Western involvement in Afghanistan in 2001. In this way, the fall of the Taliban promised a new era in terms of women rights. Although there has been much progress on girls’ access to education, the imprisonment of women or girls takes place due to the accusation against them of moral crimes.


“It is shocking that 10 years after the overthrow of the Taliban, women and girls are still imprisoned for running away from domestic violence or forced marriage,” said Kenneth Roth, HRW Executive Director.



JTW - the Journal of Turkish Weekly - is a respected Turkish news source in English language on international politics. Established in 2004, JTW is published by Ankara-based Turkish think tank International Strategic Research Organization (USAK).

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