Police Initially Sent Afghan Girl Back to her Torturers


Sahar Gul, 15, was tortured for months by her husband's family after refusing to work as a prostitute. / REUTERS
In a new twist that makes the prolonged torture of an Afghan girl for refusing to become a prostitute even more horrific, it appears corrupt government officials played a role in extending her suffering.

According to The Guardian, Sahar Gul, the 15-year-old child bride whose in-laws locked her in a basement and tortured her for months actually managed to escape at one point during her captivity.

However, what did local authorities do when shocked neighbors went to them on Gul’s behalf? They sent her back home. Back to her torturers.

“Locals say the family simply promised to stop hurting her,” the Guardian reports, and also “that bribes were paid to government officials to hush up the affair.”

As a result, the torture – which included pulling out Gul’s fingernails, starving her, and burning her head with an iron – kept on going for months. (The in-laws were irate that the girl wouldn’t become a prostitute to earn money for their family.)

It wasn’t until a male relative recently visited and discovered what had been done that she was freed after a police raid. She had been “starved in a locked basement for weeks…almost unable to speak.” The case, emblematic of the absence of even basic human rights for women in Afghanistan, has garnered attention throughout the world.

Provincial authorities denied the family had paid off local officials. However, they said they “could not remember details of the case.”  How convenient.

Sweep to Afghan child bride had escaped torturers but was sent back

Apparently corrupt government officials in Vietnam didn’t like being exposed for their road-side shakedowns of truck drivers – and now they have turned their sights on a journalist that documented the rampant extortion in late 2011.

Hoang Khuong, a reporter with Tuoi Tre News, went undercover with truck drivers carrying timber from Dak Lak to Hanoi. Several of his colleagues also embedded with long-haul truckers.

The resulting story in September carried the no-holds-barred headline: F%@! You, Pay the Road Bribes.  It reported accounts of drivers being systematically extorted for bribes along the highway by police, and threatened when they refused or tried to negotiate down the amount of the payoffs.

At one point, Tuoi Tre reported, a driver “begged for a lower fee” but was told “Pay that money or I will slap you in the face.” In another instance, a police officer lit into a driver who resisted, saying “F— you! I will smash up your face. What a dog!” and then rushed the driver “to beat him on the head and back.”

Now, it’s Hoang Khuong, the reporter, who finds himself in a jail cell after police arrested him in what can only be described as one of the more transparent attempts at retaliation ever. The alleged crime he’s charged with?  Bribing a traffic officer.

Sweep to F–k You, Pay the Road Bribes

Supporters of Anna Hazare pray for his health in Allhabad, India. / REUTERS
Indian activist Anna Hazare, who staged a hunger strike last week to protest an anti-corruption bill being considered by the Indian legislature as too weak, had to be hospitalized after becoming seriously ill during the protest.

Hazare remains in the hospital, though the Indian Express reports his condition has shown “considerable improvement” since the weekend. It remains unclear, however, whether Hazare will be able to follow through on his intention to campaign against India’s ruling party in five state elections beginning January 28.

After he met with Hazare at the hospital, key supporter Arvind Kejriwal said a decision would be made once Hazare’s health improves further.

“Annaji’s health is of prime importance to us; he would take a decision regarding campaign in poll-bound states at the core committee meeting,” Kejriwal said, according to the Indian Express.

As for the anti-corruption bill itself, it stalled during a contentious session of the Indian parliament.

Sweep to Anna Hazare’s condition improves


Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo is president and executive editor of 100Reporters, and the founder and co-director of the Double Exposure Film Festival and Symposium, the United States' only investigative film festival.