Freed Afghan rape victim Gulnaz 'may marry' attacker

Gulnaz Gulnaz gave birth to Moska in jail

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An Afghan woman jailed for adultery after being raped has told the BBC she is willing to wed her attacker if he finds a wife for one of her brothers.

Gulnaz was freed on Wednesday by President Karzai following an international outcry over her 12-year jail sentence, and is in hiding.

Her baby daughter, Moska, was conceived when she was raped.

Gulnaz said all she wants to do now is go home as fast as possible after serving two years of her sentence.

The relative who raped her is still in prison.

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt - who interviewed Gulnaz in Kabul - says that there is now a huge question mark over what happens next to her, perhaps a bigger one than she herself realises.

Our correspondent says that, under the Pashtun code of honour, any marriage agreement would necessitate the rapist finding a wife for one of the victim's brothers and paying a large dowry for her hand in marriage - and it is not clear whether he will.

Analysis

When I meet her in the house where she's being given refuge, Gulnaz is less concerned with the international attention her case has aroused than with her daughter's health.

Her baby Moska has chickenpox, and in prison she was not able to pay for a doctor.

Moska has inherited her mother's big brown eyes, though she is overwhelmed after her brief life in prison by this brightly lit room full of strangers.

Gulnaz too seems bewildered at finding herself in a strange place; no longer in jail, but not at home.

She is now among kind strangers who want to help her but are themselves constrained by ingrained cultural attitudes towards women - especially those who have children out of wedlock, even if they are the product of rape.

Gulnaz herself seems at once both younger and older than her 21 years. When she smiles at her daughter, she looks deceptively carefree, despite her ordeal.

But when she talks about the uncertain future that awaits the two of them, she cries quietly, pulling her scarf over her face.

While Gulnaz does not necessarily want to marry the man who raped her, our correspondent says, it may be the only way to stop the families becoming enemies.

She said that she would do so for the good of her family's name.

With little or no education, she has few other options if her family do not accept her home.

Gulnaz said that she last saw the man who raped her in court when they sat beside each other.

"After that we didn't have any contact and haven't seen each other," she said.

"When he is released, if he [finds] a wife for one of my two brothers, then I have to marry him.

"... If he can't find a wife for my brothers, I'm not crazy about marrying him.

"... If I have a good life with him, that will be fine. Otherwise, I will have my brothers and if I don't have a good life with him then I will divorce him and go back to them."

Gulnaz said that the rapist - who is her cousin's husband - would also have to pay her brothers 1m Afghanis ($20,700/£13,300).

Her family in Pakistan was not aware that she had been freed, she said.

She said that while she was pleased to be free, life at the secret refuge where she was now located was worse than being in prison.

"We had freedom at the prison but here we're just locked in a room. We can't go out or see the sun, for 24 hours a day we're locked up... nothing has changed for me. They have taken me from one prison to another."

She also wants to know why the government arrested her - the victim of rape - and why the Afghan justice system sentenced her as a victim to 12 years in prison.

Human rights groups say hundreds of women in Afghan jails are victims of rape or domestic violence.

Gulnaz earlier said she was charged with adultery after being raped in 2009. Initially she was sentenced to two years in jail, but when she appealed it became 12 years.

The attack on her was brought to light by her pregnancy. Her attacker was jailed for 12 years, later reduced on appeal to seven.

Gulnaz's story was included in a European Union documentary on Afghan women jailed for so-called "moral crimes" but the EU blocked its release because of concerns for the safety of the women portrayed.

The EU's Ambassador and Special Representative to Afghanistan, Vygaudas Usackas, said earlier this month that her case has highlighted the plight of Afghan women, who 10 years after the overthrow of the Taliban regime often continue "to suffer in unimaginable conditions, deprived of even the most basic human rights".

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