Eighteen year old Lal Bibi, allegedly abducted and raped by local militiamen and members of the Afghan Local Police, is hoping that justice will be on her side, or she is prepared to die at her own hands or the hands of her relatives.
Earlier this month, Bibi courageously spoke out to the media and revealed that she was chained to a wall and sexually assaulted and beaten for five days. In Afghanistan, victims like Bibi are typically killed by their relatives in order to preserve or restore honor to the family’s name. Bibi referred to herself as “already a dead person” because of the stigma and mockery that will follow from this horrific incident. Despite the dishonor that Bibi speaks of, her family brought her to Kunduz Hospital in northern Afghanistan and filed a complaint with the governor. Medical reports corroborated Bibi’s story, citing physical evidence of being chained, beaten, tortured, and raped. Alarmed by the events, President Hamid Karzai ordered the wrongdoers to be prosecuted and the Afghan Local Police to be disarmed.
The Afghan Local Police is now the focus of the investigations surrounding Bibi’s abduction, as two members were arrested, though not yet formally charged. Brothers Khudai Dad and Ghulam Sakhi insist that they could not have raped Lal Bibi since Dad and Bibi were allegedly married by a mullah right before they had intercourse. Thus, any sexual intercourse between husband and wife is not rape. Sakhi claims that in “Pashtun culture, the girls do not have the right to say who they marry and who they don’t want to marry.” Yet, prosecutors, family members, and human rights advocates disagree with the suspects’ version of Bibi’s abduction, the forced marriage, and brutal treatment. Furthermore, they are challenging the fact that even if a marriage ceremony was performed, the circumstances surrounding this marriage should not exonerate the rape.
Not to be ignored is the fate of the Afghan Local Police. The Afghan Security Council is concerned that allegations and widespread media attention could tarnish the Police’s reputation and give the Taliban leverage to attack an apparent government weakness. However, prosecutors do not want to excuse this bad behavior for the sake of appearances. Understanding the social status of the Police’s members, prosecutors hint that this brutality could be the result of the members’ former militia experiences, during which rapes and murders were committed haphazardly and with impunity. Therefore, prosecutors seem to be showing interest in this case not only to bring justice and peace to Bibi and her family, but to address the poor recruitment and departmental flaws of the Afghan Local Police by making an example of this horrific incident.