RUKHSHANA – How an Abused Young Afghan Woman Found Access to Justice

The main aim of RUKHSHANA play was to increase awareness of people on women rights and access to justice. Photo: UNDP Afghanistan / Ajmal Sherzai / 2017

24 December 2017, Mazar-e-Sharif —Rukshana (name changed) is a young woman who lives in Herat province, Afghanistan. When she was 12 years old, she was forced to marry a 50-year-old man. She was then forbidden to visit her parents, and she suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her in-laws.

She became pregnant at the age of 14, and in the eighth month of her pregnancy, after being sexually harassed by her husband, she was beaten up by her in-laws so badly that she went into a coma.

When Rukhshana’s parents found their daughter was in a coma, they immediately reported the case to the police, who opened a case against Rukhshana’s husband.

Highlights

  • Rukhshana, a young woman lives in Herat Province.
  • She was forced to marry a 50-year-old man at the age of 12.
  • She was forbidden to visit her parents for two years.
  • She suffered domestic abuse at the hands of her in-laws and husband.
  • She became pregnant at the age of 14.
  • In the eighth month of her pregnancy, after being sexually harassed by her husband, she was beaten up by her in-laws so badly that she went into a coma.
  • With support from UNDP’s Access to Justice Project, Rukshana obtained a divorce, and her husband was sent to jail.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s Afghanistan Access to Justice (AA2J) Project provided a lawyer to represent Rukhshana in court. With support from UNDP, Rukshana obtained a divorce, and her husband was sent to jail.

Herat is a western province of Afghanistan, where violence against women is commonplace. Due to social stigma, women hesitate to report their cases to the police.

Recently, UNDP organized a theatre play based on Rukhshana’s story. The performance, aimed at raising awareness about women rights and access to justice, is designed to help reduce violence against women and girls across the country.

UNDP’s AA2J project is carried out in partnership with the Ministry of Justice. The project also supports the Legal Aid Grant Facility (LAGF) program to bring justice closer to vulnerable groups. 6375 cases in 8 provinces have been assisted by LAGF so far, including 939 female cases.  

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