An Afghan woman raped by her cousin’s husband has revealed how she is faced with a horrific dilemma – marry him or spend the next 12 years in jail.
Gulnaz was aged just 19 when she was convicted by a court of adultery, even though she tried to prevent the attack.
Now she is in Kabul’s Badam Bagh jail, serving out her sentence with her rapist’s child.
But now she has been given an option that most women would consider nothing less than repulsive – starting a new life with the man who attacked her.
And, even more incredibly, she is willing to.
Dressed in a veil, with her baby in her lap, Gulnaz explained how it was the only way out of jail, and the only way around the dishonour of having sex outside marriage.
She recalls the day that changed her life two years ago, which began her long nightmare.
Her assailant arrived at the house when her mother left for a brief visit to the hospital.
‘He had filthy clothes on as he does metal and construction work,’ she told CNN in an exclusive interview.
‘He closed doors and windows. I started screaming, but he shut me up by putting his hands on my mouth,’ she said.
After the attack, she hid what happened as long as she could. But soon she began showing the signs of morning sickness.
She received not sympathy but prosecution. But she appreciates she is lucky to get a second chance.
Many women in her position have been killed, for the shame such incidents bring on the community.
Now, if she marries her attacker she has a chance to restore her honour and to give her child a family.
‘I was asked if I wanted to start a new life by getting released, by marrying this man’.
She added: ‘My daughter is a little innocent child. Who knew I would have a child in this way. A lot of people told me that after your daughter’s born give it to someone else, but my aunt told me to keep her as proof of my innocence.’
CNN tracked down Gulnaz’s rapist in a jail across town.
He denied raping her, but agreed that she would be a likely target if she got out of jail.
He insists that it will be her family, not his, that will kill her.
But Gulnaz’s plight has found international attention.
The European Union part-funded the team of documentary makers who interviewed her and other women facing a similar plight but have decided to spike the project after watching it.
The EU said it was concerned about the safety of the women in the film, saying they could be subject to reprisals.
The film-makers however suspect that the EU might also be motivated by its sensitive relationship with Afghan justice institutions.
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