Karzai Grants Jailed Afghan Women Amnesty

In celebration of Ramadan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai last week granted amnesty to 20 women in Kabul, jailed mostly on charges of petty crimes, such as adultery or refusal to marry with parental consent. The women who served terms ranging from five months to two years, crammed six to each 6- by 9-foot cell. Afghan authorities on Sunday freed 21 womenÑone accidentally, because she had the same name as another. The Associated Press reports that officials will consider amnesty for the ten remaining women, jailed on “more serious cases.” In addition, President Karzai announced last Thursday that men and women held in other provincial prisons on petty crimes would also be considered for release.

Still, Kabul police chief Abdul Basir insists that his department will continue arresting women for adultery or eloping, so long as charges are filed against them. “They will be prosecuted if they want to marry someone else or if they have a husband and want to live with somebody else illegallyÉIf we don’t listen to the families, they will kill the women themselves,” Basir said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Associated Press 11/7/02, 11/10/02; LA Times 11/11/02

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