Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Afghanistan: Aug ‘08

IWPR article on harrowing sexual assault on 12-year-old prompts police sackings.
By IWPR

Several police officers investigating the brutal rape of a young girl have been dismissed following an IWPR report into the conduct of the case.

IWPR reporter Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi’s story, Rape Surrounded by Impunity and Silence, documented the case of twelve-year Anisa, who was subjected to a vicious sexual assault, which sent shock waves through her native province of Sar-e-Pul.

Ibrahimi was one of only a few reporters invited to a press conference in which Anisa’s mother and uncle demanded justice for the young girl, who was raped by five armed men in her own home.

The case was extremely unusual for Afghanistan. Many victims are silent about their ordeal, fearing rejection by their community. Not infrequently, a victim of rape is rejected by her family, sometimes even killed, for the shame associated with the crime.

But Anisa’s family had the courage to come forward, and invite the press to explore the issue. Ibrahimi, as well as a television journalist for Ariana, a private station, covered the case, asking hard questions of the police chief and of the central government. As a result, the police chief and four of his associates were sacked and are facing charges of criminal negligence.

One of the alleged perpetrators has been arrested, while the other four have fled the region.

Anisa’s case has attracted world attention, as has IWPR’s coverage.

A reporter from Time Magazine, Aryn Baker, visited IWPR and conferred with Programme Director Jean MacKenzie, as well as Ibrahimi. She was planning a trip to the north and looking for some advice from people who knew the area well.

Ibrahimi shared some of his insights on the topic of rape. Baker’s story, Afghanistan’s Epidemic of Child Rape, appeared in Time on August 17.

While the media cannot, by itself, put an end to this heinous crime, it can ensure that those responsible face justice.

IWPR journalists will keep the pressure on the authorities of Sar-e-Pul, as well as other provinces where incidents of rape have been on the rise.