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Afghan president calls for meeting on rape victim's case

From Nick Paton Walsh, CNN
November 28, 2011 -- Updated 1720 GMT (0120 HKT)
Gulnaz, 21, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after reporting she had been raped by her cousin's husband
Gulnaz, 21, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after reporting she had been raped by her cousin's husband
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Afghanistan's president calls high-level judiciary meeting to discuss rape victim's case
  • A petition calling for clemency for the woman prompted the meeting, a spokesman says

(CNN) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called a high-level judiciary meeting to discuss the case of a rape victim who was jailed because of the attack and has agreed to marry the rapist to get out of prison and legitimize her daughter, the president's spokesman said Monday.

The meeting, scheduled for Thursday in Kabul, was called in reaction to a petition with nearly 5,000 signatures and media inquiries about the case, said Karzai spokesman Aimal Faizi.

The woman was sentenced to 12 years in prison after she approached authorities to report that her cousin's husband had raped her two years ago. CNN is identifying her only as Gulnaz to protect her identity.

She did not immediately report the attack, fearing reprisals from elements of Afghanistan's conservative society and was sentenced to prison for adultery because her attacker was married at the time.

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Her sentence was later reduced to three years. A spokesman for the attorney general, Rahmatullah Naziri, told CNN last week that while the original sentence for adultery was reduced, she had failed to report her rape quickly enough and would have to serve further time in jail for that offense.

She is now raising her daughter in jail and has agreed to marry her attacker in order to be released and legitimize her daughter. She also fears attack from her rapist's relatives, something he denies is a risk.

Kim Motley, a lawyer for 21-year-old Gulnaz, said the petition gathered 4,751 names in about 48 hours.

The palace received the petition on Sunday, she said.

It comes with an official plea for clemency addressed to the president, who has the power to immediately pardon Gulnaz.

Her plight gained international attention when the European Union blocked the broadcast of a documentary made about her ordeal saying that it would further jeopardize her safety.

The U.S. State Department, while not explicitly calling for Gulnaz's release, said Thursday that "Gulnaz's situation is one no woman should have to face" and called on prosecutors to uphold the law and Gulnaz's rights.

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