Afghan girl's 'horrifying abuse' exposed by video

Sahar Gul, 15: "My mother-in-law pulled out my nails"

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A video given to the BBC shows the extent of the injuries suffered by a 15 year-old Afghan child bride who was locked up and tortured by her husband.

The girl was left starving after being detained by him and his family for several months.

The case came to light this week when police rescued the teenager, Sahar Gul, who had been locked up in the basement of her in-laws' house.

Police say that she had had her nails and clumps of hair pulled out.

In addition they say she had chunks of flesh cut out with pliers.

Windowless room

Sahar Gul was married off to a 30-year-old man around seven months ago, when she was just 14 years old. Her parents contacted police after not being able to see her for several months.

She was rescued from a dark, windowless room in her in-laws' house, according to Baghlan police official Jawid Basharat.

In the video, as Sahar is taken to hospital in a wheelchair, she is asked who beat her. She names her father-in-law, her husband, her sister-in-law, her brother-in-law and her mother-in-law. The 15-year-old says her hair and her nails were pulled out by her mother-in-law.

The authorities in the northern Baghlan province said they were aware of reports that the girl was tortured after she refused to be forced into prostitution, but could not confirm that was the case.

Rahima Zarifi, director of the Women's Affairs Department in Baghlan, said Sahar had been severely tortured, both physically and mentally, and that the psychological scars were likely to endure.

The police have managed to arrest Sahar's in-laws, but her husband had already fled.

Women in many parts of Afghanistan continue to suffer domestic abuse, often at the hands of their own family or in-laws.

Human rights activists worry that the plight of many women here, especially in rural areas, is being sidelined as the international community focuses on its military drawdown, and puts less emphasis and less pressure on the Afghan authorities over human rights.

In the second quarter of this year alone, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission registered 1,026 cases of violence against women, compared with a total last year of 2,700.

Those are only the cases that come to light.

Under Afghan law, the earliest age for marriage for girls is 16. However, almost half of Afghan women are married when they are younger.

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