Sahar Gul was so horrifically abused that two weeks after she was rescued from her in-laws' basement, photos of her injuries are still hard to look at. The 15-year-old's hair and fingernails are missing, her face is swollen, and she looks weak and malnourished. Yet, her husband's parents and his sister, who've been arrested, all insist that they didn't do anything to her. Gul isn't doing very well in the hospital, but she briefly spoke out, insisting that her in-laws are the ones who hurt her, and she wants them to be punished.
From her hospital bed in a Kabul hospital, Gul said of her husband, who has yet to be captured, and in-laws, "I want them to be in jail ... They gave me electric shock. ... They beat me with cables and tortured me." While Gul is making some progress, she's still in a terrible state both physically and psychologically. Wazhma Frogh of the Afghan Women's Network told CNN that she's bruised and too weak to move her body, and has to use diapers because she can't get to a bathroom. Frogh said the girl is also afraid of people touching her, and the group has "provided her with a trauma counselor because she is very traumatized and even when I wanted to take her hand, she resisted."
The Women's Network has provided Gul with legal representation and managed to convince Afghan authorities to move the case to Kabul so there will be less influence from locals. Though the abuse of women is rampant in the country, Afghans were shocked by Gul's story. Seven months after her wedding, Gul is still under the legal marriage age of 16. According to UN estimates, half of all Afghan girls under 15 are forced into marriage. Women's rights activists hope that the outrage over the treatment of Gul will translate to a reduction in the number of child brides and better treatment of women in general.