Violence Against Women

Note:  The article below has nothing to do with the Old Testament or the Hebrew Bible.  It is only the story of a young woman who was brutally tortured and beaten because she refused to become a prostitute.

When I read this story I thought about the plight of other women who suffer similar indignities just because they are women.

The story below was written by Hamid Shalizi for Reuters and it was published in the Chicago Tribune on January 1, 2012.  The story is reproduced here in its entirety in order to call attention to the problem of violence against women.

KABUL (Reuters) – A 15-year-old Afghan girl was brutally tortured, beaten and locked in a toilet by her husband’s family for months after she refused to become a prostitute, officials said Saturday.

Sahar Gul was in critical condition when she was rescued from a house in northern Baghlan province last week, after her neighbors reported hearing Gul crying and moaning in pain.

According to police in Baghlan, her in-laws pulled out her nails and hair, and locked her in a dark basement bathroom for about five months, with barely enough food and water to survive.

“She was married seven months ago, and was originally from Badakhshan province. Her in-laws tried to force her into prostitution to earn money,” Rahima Zarifi, head of women’s affairs in Baghlan told Reuters.

Gul is covered in scars and bruises, with one eye still swollen shut six days after her rescue. She is being treated in a government hospital in Kabul, but her recovery could take weeks and she may have to be sent to India, doctors said.

“This is one of the worst cases of violence against Afghan women. The perpetrators must be punished so others learn a lesson,” health minister Suraya Dalil told journalists after visiting Gul Saturday with the women’s affairs minister.

Mohammad Zia, a senior police official in Baghlan who helped rescue the girl, said Gul’s mother-in-law and sister-in-law have been detained, but her husband and father-in-law had escaped.

“We have launched a serious hunt to get her husband and the others involved,” Zia told Reuters via phone from Baghlan.

Despite progress in women’s rights and freedom since the fall of the Taliban 10 years ago, women throughout the country are still at risk of abduction, rape, forced marriage and being traded as commodity.

However it can be hard for women to escape violent situations at home, because of huge social and sometimes legal pressure to stay in marriages.

Running away from an abusive husband or a forced marriage are considered “moral crimes,” for which women are currently imprisoned in Afghanistan.

Some rape victims have also been imprisoned, because sex outside marriage, even when the woman is forced, is considered adultery, another “moral crime.”

The story of Sahar Gul is a tragic tale of violence against one woman, but like her, there are thousands of other women who suffer the same indignities because of their gender.  As believers in Christ, we believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ offers hope both to the victims and to the perpetrators of these kinds of violence.

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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This entry was posted in News, Rape, Violence, Women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Violence Against Women

  1. Paul Mast Hewitt says:

    Thank you for raising this issue. It is heart breaking to hear that crimes like these still occur 2000+ years after Christ and over a hundred years after the suffrage movement worked so hard to get women the right to vote in western countries. Let us resolve to keep these issues and the victims of such crimes in our prayers, but also in our thoughts and the policies and actions we support.


    • Claude Mariottini says:


      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. The only thing you and I can do is to pray for the young woman. As long as societies allow these brutalities to continue, women will continue to suffer in the hands of those who have no regard for human dignity.

      Claude Mariottini


  2. Kelly Wunderlich says:

    So sad that in the year 2012, this is still happening… Hopefully– This girl will have the strength to move ahead, and be able to get the help that she will probably need to have a some what normal life. We do take forgranted the freedoms that we are allowed in the United States, yet women in many cultures are treated as animals with no rights… God is watching us…… to see how we “treat the least of these”.


    • Claude Mariottini says:


      The only way that young woman will have any hope of a better future is by leaving the society that allows this kind of brutality to occur. People in the West take for grated the freedom we have, but we are willing to surrender this freedom for the sake of convenience. Unless the human heart is changed, violence against women will continue to be a fact of life.

      Claude Mariottini


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