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More Afghan women are being imprisoned on murder charges

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 22nd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Afghan women are being increasingly jailed on murder charges. Officials say that more than a quarter of the 700 women in prison are serving murder sentences.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Gen. Amir Mohammad Jamshed, chief of the Afghan Prison and Detention Centers says that these numbers continue to increase. There are 34 prisons in the country with a total of 24,613 inmates.

"The number of prisoners increases every year by 24 percent. The number of women charged with murder shows much increase. Murder tops the crimes by women," he told journalists.

Women have also been jailed in cases of adultery, robbery, abduction and narcotics smuggling. "The crimes have causes," Gen. Jamshed says.

Among the myriad reasons for this high incarceration rate, he lists the practice of forced marriages and the vast disparity in age between husband and wife. "Poverty can be counted as the cause of problems in the community," he adds.

While many have been arrested on murder charges, most crimes of murder involving women are found in a few provinces, such as Herat and the Northern Provinces like Balkh, Baghlan and Jawzjan.

Many say they have been railroaded into serving prison sentences due to the faulty court system. Sixty-year-old Sayera says her daughter-in-law committed suicide after two years of marriage. According to her, the daughter-in-law set herself aflame after pouring oil on herself.

"Many of our family members were jailed on the accusation of killing her. Some people were released. I have been in prison for one-and-a-half years. I am accused of killing my daughter-in-law and burning her body. That is a lie. I am innocent."

The woman says her neighbors have given false evidence.

"Nooria" says she killed her brother-in-law in self-defense. "My husband lived out of the country. I killed my brother-in-law because he had an evil eye on me in my husband's absence," she says.

She says she attacked her brother-in-law with a kitchen knife because he was going to sexually assault her.

Mohammad Zaher Zaher, head of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of Kabul province believes there is no significant increase in the murder rates. "The crime figures are normal. No difference, either in terms of increasing or decreasing has been seen in the past few years."

He says his department has investigated only three murder crimes by women, significantly less than crimes perpetrated by men.

Women turn criminals, in his opinion, are borne out of "compulsion and life problems." He believes women criminals "live with violent men or are victims of violence by men," saying the "level of violence against women is high but still women generally are compassionate . if they perpetrate crime it is due to compulsion and life problems."

A version of this story was first published by Inter Press Service news agency.

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