More than 50% of women jailed for adultery in Afghanistan come from province prosecuted by Ms Bashir – which holds just 20% of the population
By Eddie Wrenn
Last year she was hailed as one of the most influential people in the world – a defender of women’s rights as Afghanistan’s only female head prosecutor.
Ms Bashir has been lauded by both Michelle Obama and Hilary Clinton – and she was one of ten women to receive a ‘Women of Courage’ Award in Washington last year.
But Maria Bashir’s reputation is now in doubt after the Times revealed that Ms Bashir is also the most prolific prosecutor of women for Afghanistan’s so-called ‘moral’ crimes, such as adultery.
While Ms Bashir campaigns against abuse husbands, more than half of the 172 women jailed in Afghanistan for sex outside of marriage (known as ‘zina’) have come from her province.
Defender or jailer? Maria Bashir, pictured with with First Lady Michelle Obama U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has jailed more than 100 women for adultery in Afghanistan
The Herat province’s population stands at an estimated 1.7million, and Afghanistan as a whole has a population of 35million.
Last week Ms Bashir, who became lead prosecutor in 2006, and has prosecuted nearly a thord of the 78 women jailed for murder in Afghanistan, was promoted to become Herat’s attorney-general.
The Times said diplomats are ‘shocked’ by the extraordinary tally of women imprisoned for adultery.
It further says that 101 out of 136 women serving in Herat’s women jail are there for adultery, one of the moral crimes which campaigners for women’s rights are trying to remove from Afghanistan.
Two sides: Maria Bashir, attorney general of Herat comforting Arefa, a victim of domestic violence, in Herat, Afghanistan, last year
When she received her award, the two presidential wives said: ‘Ms Bashir has waged a determined campaign against crime and corruption.
‘She stands out as a champion of judicial transparency and women’s rights, and exemplifies the resilience of Afghan women.’
When the Times contacted Ms Bashir, she said she was unaware that her prosecution rate was so much higer than other provinces, but blamed it on her province’s closeness to the border with Iran.
She said: ‘If it is higher it’s because we are bordered with Iran, which culturally influences Afghans.’
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