KABUL — An Afghan woman who was jailed for adultery after being raped has been released from prison after President Hamid Karzai issued a pardon, her lawyer said on Wednesday.
Gulnaz was released on Tuesday night two years after she was jailed for a so-called "moral crime" when a relative raped her at her home, and almost two weeks after the president ordered her free.
She was pardoned on December 1 after Karzai met judicial officials following an international outcry over her situation.
But her case created further uproar when the officials advised that Gulnaz should marry the man who attacked her, due to fears she could be in danger if released because of the stigma surrounding her attack in ultra-conservative Afghanistan.
"The million dollar question is whether she is going to marry her attacker," her US lawyer Kimberley Motley said after her release.
"But he has five more years to serve and as far as I know there has never been an Afghan wedding in jail."
Motley said she had spoken to Gulnaz after her release and "she was pretty clear that she did not want to marry her attacker".
The case highlighted the poor state of women's rights in Afghanistan, 10 years after a US-led invasion ousted the Taliban who were notorious for their harsh laws against women.
Motley said the attacker's father had been allowed to visit Gulnaz several times in jail and made her sign a document which she did not understand.
"Now she is a little bit more free to think and see what she wants, so she's saying what she really feels," Motley said.
"She's happy that she's not in prison any more. She's pretty relieved."
Gulnaz, who does not know her exact age but is 20 or 21, has been raising the child she had by her attacker in a prison cell in Kabul.
Violence against women in Afghanistan appears to be increasing rather than decreasing, despite billions of dollars of international aid which has poured into the country during the decade-long war.
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.
Some 87 percent of Afghan women report having experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage, according to figures quoted in an October report by the charity Oxfam.
Last month, the United Nations said that a landmark law aiming to protect women against violence in Afghanistan had only been used to prosecute just over 100 cases since being enacted two years ago.
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