An Afghan woman, who was raped by her cousin's husband when she was barely 16 years old, was subsequently jailed for adultery and then forced to marry her attacker. The woman, only identified as Gulnaz, has told her story to CNN, and the interview highlights the shambolic state of women's rights in Afghanistan.
Gulnaz was raped by Asadullah in 2009, and as a result of the attack, she became pregnant with her eldest daughter, Smile. Rather than offering sympathy and kindness after the tragic events, her brothers shunned her and declared that, because she was unmarried, she had "shamed" the family.
A court sentenced Gulnaz to two years in prison for a "crime" labeled "adultery by force," and when she appealed, they found her guilty once more and increased her jail time to 12 years. In order to reduce her sentence, Gulnaz married her attacker in 2013, and she tells CNN that she only agreed so that her daughter could live a shame-free life.
"I didn't wan to ruin the life of my daughter or leave myself helpless so I agreed to marry him. We are traditional people. When we get a bad name, we prefer death to living with that name in society."
Gulnaz, who reportedly refused to look her attacker in the eye throughout the interview, has been married to Asadullah for two years and is pregnant with his third child. Asadullah showed no remorse as Gulnaz explained her harrowing situation, instead telling cameras that he feels he did her a favor by marrying her.
"If I hadn't married her according to our traditions, she couldn't have lived back in society. Her brothers didn't want to accept her back. Now, she doesn't have any of those problems."
Asadullah is still married to Gulnaz's cousin, with whom he has five children, and the three adults and seven kids all live in one home together. Though a third appeal saw Gulnaz released from jail, and the rule that she must marry her attacker was dropped, she agreed to the wedding over living a life of poverty.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.