18 year-old Lal Bibi was kidnapped, raped, tortured and chained to a wall for five days by a gang of powerful Afghan police officers. But she stood up to do what women in Afghanistan are told not to -- she is fighting back, and together we can help her and all Afghan women win justice.
According to deep cultural mandates, as a raped woman, Lal Bibi has been "dishonoured" and will kill herself -- and she publicly says she must, unless her rapists are brought to justice to restore her honour and dignity. Afghanistan's justice system routinely fails to pursue these cases and so far the chief suspects in Lal Bibi's case have not been prosecuted, likely in the hopes that international attention will die down. Every day that passes without the prosecutions pushes Lal Bibi closer to suicide -- but there is hope.
This weekend, the US, UK, Japan and other major donors are expected to pledge 4 billion dollars to Afghanistan -- money that will pay for the very police forces responsible for Lal Bibi’s rape. But an international outcry can shame donor countries into action, conditioning their aid on real action to fight rape and protect women.
Local custom in some parts of Afghanistan dictates that women are shamed by rape and must kill themselves to restore their family's honour for generations to come. Amazingly, Lal Bibi and her family courageously are seeking to save her life by insisting on the prosecution of her torturers and shifting the blame to the perpetrators, in society's eyes.
The Afghan police force responsible for the rape depends heavily on foreign funding that will be pledged this weekend, when all of Afghanistan’s major donors gather in Tokyo. Donor countries can and should require that funds are not spent to grow a police force that acts with appalling impunity and that police officers work to protect women, not attack them!
There are hundreds of women and girls all across Afghanistan who are subject to the “tribal justice” meted out to Lal Bibi. Thousands more are watching carefully to see how the Afghan government and the world will respond to the girl who is fighting back and refuses to die quietly.
The global war on women is relentless. But time and time again our community joins together to win. We helped stop the illegal stoning of Sakineh Ashtiani in Iran, and fought for justice for rape survivors in Libya, Morocco and Honduras. Let’s show the global power of our community to help win justice for Lal Bibi and millions of women in Afghanistan.
With hope and determination,