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‘Two Murders’: Afghanistan In-Laws Burn Pregnant 14-Year-Old Alive

A pregnant 14-year-old died in Afghanistan after she was tortured and set on fire last week by her in-laws as revenge for her father eloping with their young niece.

“She aborted while she was being burnt. Here, we have witnessed two murders and two crimes,” declared Baqi Samandar, identified as a civil society activist by Afghanistan’s TOLO News.

Local news outlets report the victim, identified only as Zahra, died on Saturday at the Isteqlal Hospital in the Afghan capital of Kabul, adding that the perpetrators managed to escape after committing the horrific crime, which occurred in the country’s central province of Ghor.

Zahra had been a victim of domestic violence from the time she was married, claimed Mohammad Azam, her father.

“No one paid attention to Zahra, even when she was stabbed, beaten and harassed,” added Taza Gul, the victim’s step-mother who also claimed to have suffered from domestic violence at the hands of her previous husband.

Khaama Press (KP) notes that Zahra became the victim of a traditional practice of settling disputes among families or tribes known as “Baad.”

TOLO News reports the practice, which it described as “bad dadan,” involves trading girls and women “to settle a dispute between families, often a blood dispute.”

The custom is illegal in Afghanistan and the victim’s father could face prosecution for engaging in it, points out the Daily Mail.

According to the U.K. news outlet, Mohammad Azam, Zahra’s father, said, “The killing was an act of revenge after the 45-year-old had run away with a young cousin of his daughter’s husband when the family had agreed to sell her for more money.”

The Daily Mail quotes Azam as saying, “The in-laws had struck a marriage deal… letting him marry the cousin in payment for a debt they owed him for construction work.”

However, he added that “they later reneged on the deal… after promising the cousin to another man for more money.”

Citing Ghor’s acting police chief Zaman Azimi, KP reports that “an investigation is underway regarding the incident,” adding that Zahra’s father in law is in custody in connection to the crime.

“They [the victim’s new family] have power. The court works in their favor. The police headquarters and the provincial council office also are in their favor,” said Zahra’s father.

The savage crime against the teenage girl comes as Afghan officials voice concern about the growing number of child marriages and the rising violence against women across the country, adds KP.

“Afghanistan faces serious human rights issues, including physical and sexual violence against women and so-called honor killings that often involve immolation,” notes the Daily Mail.

“While Ghor province has often been the source of reports of young women being abused by their families or stoned to death after being accused of adultery or running away from home, such incidents occur also elsewhere in the country,” it adds.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has condemned the crime.

AIHRC chairperson Sima Samar urged the government “to bring the perpetrators of this act to court and ensure justice for the victim,” notes TOLO.

Nevertheless, Zahra’s father indicated that he did not expect justice in lawless Ghor province, according to the Daily Mail.

He did say, “The culprits should be brought to justice, my daughter’s blood must not go in vain.“

“About 50 people, including Azam, members of his family and women’s rights activists, rallied on Monday in western Kabul, calling for justice,” reports the Daily Mail.

Last November, the AIHRC reported that “statistic of violence against women, obtained from the registered cases of violence against women during the first six months [in 2015]… exceeds 2579 cases,” marking an increase of nearly 10 percent from the same period the previous year.

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