Target: Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, President of Afghanistan
Goal: Protect rape survivor and her human rights defender from violence and death threats
Ten-year-old Brishna, a girl living in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, was raped by a mullah in her local mosque. Although the mullah, Mohammad Amin, was arrested, tried, and sentenced to 20 years in prison, Brishna’s ordeal is not over: She is in grave danger of an “honor killing” from family and community members. One of her main advocates, Dr. Hassina Sarwari, is also at risk of violence from members of the community. Sign the petition and demand protection for Brishna and Dr. Sarwari.
Brishna’s brutal rape left her confined to a women’s shelter for two months, and she was in such bad shape immediately following her rape that she required a transport to Kabul for further medical care, Dr. Sarwari said. After police returned Brishna to her family, she was threatened with an honor killing, and Dr. Sarwari received threats from Brishna’s family, religious figures, and other prominent community members for her role in helping Brishna.
Honor killings in Afghanistan carry reduced sentences compared to other forms of murder. While it is heartening that authorities responded so swiftly and decisively to Brishna’s rape by arresting the culprit and bringing him to trial, their role in this ordeal is not yet over. Sign the petition and urge them to protect Brishna, Dr. Hassina Sarwari, and the other women’s rights defenders involved in the case from retaliatory violence.
Dear President Ahmadzai,
I am writing with a most urgent request: I implore you to ensure the protection of 10-year-old rape survivor Brishna, her advocate Dr. Hassina Sarwari, and any other women’s rights advocates at risk of violence due to their involvement in Brishna’s rape case. Brishna is in grave danger of an honor killing, and Dr. Sarwari has been threatened with retaliatory violence from Brishna’s family, religious figures, and community leaders due to her role in helping Brishna.
Brishna has already been through an unimaginable ordeal. Her focus should be on healing, not on worrying about how each day might be her last. There is nothing honorable about killing a 10-year-old over an act that she did not invite and which has already been a source of great suffering for her. The fact that her killing would bring a reduced sentence as a result of its “honor” motivation is disgusting and backward. Why victimize an innocent child all over again? Who will gain from that?
Similarly, the threats against Dr. Sarwari and other women’s rights advocates are shameful and constitute a misdirection of anger. The only target of disgust and fury should be the middle-aged rapist who stole a young girl’s childhood and forever altered her relationship to her family, her community, and herself.
I exhort you to ensure that Brishna is safe from harm. Please protect those who have risked their own lives to protect hers. I also encourage you to do away with laws that discount the value of a 10-year-old’s life, simply because she has been strong enough to overcome one of the greatest difficulties one human being can inflict upon another.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Nicolas Raymond via Flickr