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Karzai orders probe in torture of 15-year-old Afghan girl

By Masoud Popalzai, CNN
January 2, 2012 -- Updated 0923 GMT (1723 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Afghan president orders the arrest of those behind the torture
  • He says the issue "must be seriously investigated"
  • Authorities say Sahar Gul, 15, was tortured and starved by her in-laws

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai called for an investigation into the torture of a 15-year-old girl, who police say they rescued after she was locked in the basement of her in-laws' house, starved and her nails pulled out.

Karzai ordered the Interior Ministry on Sunday to look into the case of Sahar Gul, saying the issue "must be seriously investigated," his office said in a statement. He also ordered the deputy minister of the interior to arrest those behind the torture of the girl.

Last month, authorities in the northern Baghlan province said they rescued the girl after hearing reports that she was tortured after she refused to be forced into prostitution. But, they said, they were waiting for her to fully recover to talk to her and learn more.

Sahar was married off to a 30-year-old man about seven months ago. After her parents reported not seeing her for months, police launched their investigation, Baghlan police official Jawid Basharat said at the time.

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"After police rescued her from a dark room of her in-laws' house, we saw her nails had been pulled out by her husband. And she said with broken voice that her husband used to cut her flesh using pliers," he said.

The girl was also denied food, he said.

Rahima Zarifi, director of the Women's Affairs Department in Baghlan, said Sahar was immediately hospitalized.

Police have arrested her in-laws, but her husband fled.

The case, Zarifi has said, highlights how women continue to suffer in parts of Afghanistan despite overall progress since the fall of the Taliban.

In the second quarter of this year, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) registered 1,026 cases of violence against women. Last year, 2,700 cases were recorded.

In December, gunmen attacked and sprayed an Afghan family with acid in their home after the father rejected a man's bid to marry his teenage daughter.

In another case, a 21-year-old, identified only as Gulnaz for her own protection, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after she reported that her cousin's husband had raped her.

Her plight attracted international attention when it came out that she had agreed to marry her attacker to gain her freedom and legitimize a daughter conceived in the attack.

She was eventually freed, following the president's intervention.

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