A young Afghan girl faces new threats after a court last month sentenced a village Mullah to 20 years in prison for raping her.
The 10-year-old, whose name is being held to protect her identity, is now being threatened by Taliban militants and clerics in her remote village in the northeast Afghan province of Konduz. They accuse her of maligning both the teacher and their community.
The victim's uncle, Abdul Qayoum, told Radio Free Afghanistan the family is under pressure from clerics and militant supporters of the convicted cleric who accuse them of disparaging their community.
"My niece and our family are being threatened by the Taliban and supporters of the convicted mullah. They claim we have given the mullahs, prayer leaders and other clerics a bad name," he said.
Afghan and global human and women rights activists had welcomed the October 25 judgment by an Afghan court that sentenced Mullah Mohammad Amin to 20 years in prison. He was convicted of raping the girl inside a mosque in the Alti Gumbad village in Konduz in the spring.
The victim's family had pushed for the death sentence for the cleric. Reportedly, the family had initially planned to kill the victim in an "honor killing" for bringing shame on them, but a nongovernmental organization persuaded them to back the victim. Women for Afghan Women had sheltered the girl for months during the trial.
Qayoum said the family had never contemplated killing the child. "Why would we kill her?" he asked. "She is only a child and a victim of a brutal rape. We are humans and Muslims; we would never think of killing her."
Waisuddin Talash, the head of criminal police investigations in Konduz, said the victim's family had not notified them formally of any threats.
"We cannot deploy police officers in Alti Gumbad just because of one case," he told Radio Free Afghanistan. "I think she can only be protected if she is moved to a shelter in Konduz city [the provincial capital]."
Rafiullah Bedar, a spokesman for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, said it would help the victim's family seek protection from the government. "If asked, we are ready to work with the security organizations to ensure the victim's security," he said.
In an October 28 statement, global rights watchdog Human Rights Watch noted that, despite punishing her tormentor, the 10-year-old Afghan rape victim faces problems. "Her family withdrew her from school after the incident, out of shame, and the shelter is trying to persuade them to allow her to attend school at a children's refuge. Her safety from relatives is not assured," the statement said.
The statement called on Kabul to do more to help her. "Unless the government takes stronger and more effective action to protect them [rape victims], the outcomes will be far less hopeful," it said