Photo: EPA/ROB ELLIOTT
Afghan police have rescued a teenage girl who was beaten and locked up in a lavatory for over five months after she defied her in-laws who tried to force her into prostitution, officials said on Tuesday.
Sahar Gul, 15, was found in the basement of her husband's house in northeastern Baghlan province late on Monday after her parents reported her disappearance to the police.
"She was beaten, her fingernails were removed and her arm was broken," district police chief Fazel Rahman told AFP.
Three women including the teenager's mother in-law had been arrested in connection with the case but her husband had fled the area, he added.
The case highlights how women continue to suffer in Afghanistan despite the billions of pounds of international aid which has poured into the country during the decade-long war.
"The 15-year-old girl was brought to hospital with severe shock," said Pul-i-Khurmeri hospital chief Dr Gul Mohammad Wardak.
"She had injuries to her legs and face and the nails on her left had been removed."
Sahar Gul was married to her husband seven months ago in the neighbouring province of Badakhshan, but she was brought to Baghlan to live with her husband, said Rahima Zareefi, the provincial head of women affairs.
During this time her parents were unable to contact her, she said.
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission logged 1,026 cases of violence against women in the second quarter of 2011 compared with 2,700 cases for the whole of 2010.
And according to figures in an Oxfam report in October, 87 per cent of Afghan women report having experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage.
Sahar Gul's case comes after a woman known as Gulnaz was pardoned and released earlier this month after spending two years in prison for "moral crimes".
She was jailed after she reported to police that her cousin's husband had raped her. Gulnaz gave birth to the rapist's child in prison.
Last month, the United Nations said that a landmark law aiming to protect women against violence in Afghanistan had been used to prosecute just over 100 cases since being enacted two years ago.