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Husband Cuts Off Wife's Nose In Afghanistan

Afghan woman Reza Gul, 20, and whose nose was sliced off by her husband in an attack, lies on a bed as she receives treatment at a hospital in the northern province of Faryab on January 19.

A woman in Afghanistan has had her nose cut off by her husband in a striking new instance of domestic violence in the war-wracked country, authorities said.

The incident happened on January 17 in a remote village in the Ghormach district of the northern Faryab Province.

Provincial police chief Said Aqa Andarabi told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that the victim is 20-year-old Reza Gul.

The provincial governor’s spokesman, Ahmad Javed Bedar, said Gul’s husband, 25-year-old Mohammad Khan, cut her nose off with a pocket knife.

She was only brought to the local hospital in the provincial capital of Maymana a day later, after having lost a lot of blood.

Gul told the media from her hospital bed that her husband had cut off her nose after tying up her hands.

Photos of the mutilated Gul sparked a wave of outrage online, prompting calls for the attacker to be punished for what was described as a barbaric act.

It was not immediately clear what triggered the attack, but local officials report that Gul had been repeatedly subjected to violence by her husband.

She was married off as a teenager some five years ago and has a one-year-old child.

Bedar said security forces, including the intelligence agency and police were looking for Khan, who had fled the village after the incident.

The Taliban, which controls the district where the incident took place, also said it was looking for Khan. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said that if Khan was found, he would be dealt with "according to Shari'a law." He did not elaborate.

Women's Rights Often Ignored

Faryab Province, which borders Turkmenistan, is one of Afghanistan's poorest regions, where many people survive on food handouts from authorities.

Fawzia Salimi, the director of the Afghan-Turk hospital in Maymana, said the medical facility was trying to send Gul to Turkey for further reconstructive treatment, which was not available locally.

Cutting off someone's nose is traditionally regarded in some Afghan regions as punishment for those who have brought disgrace to their family or clan.

Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission has condemned the attack, calling it a "disgrace" and demanding that authorities bring the perpetrator to justice.

Women's rights are often ignored in Afghanistan, a country where domestic abuse and violence in general are widespread after decades of war.

The case of Afghan woman Aisha Mohammadzai sparked international outrage after Time magazine published a cover photo of her noseless face in 2010.

Mohammadzai, then 18, had been mutilated by an abusive husband. She was later taken to the United States where she received a prosthetic nose.

In March last year, Farkhunda Malikzada, 27, was beaten to death in central Kabul after being falsely accused of burning a Koran. Her body was set on fire and thrown in a river.

The mob killing sparked violent protests in Afghanistan, bringing global attention to the abuse Afghan women suffer.

In November last year, a young woman was stoned to death after being accused of adultery in the central province of Ghor.

Written by Eugen Tomiuc based on reporting by RFE/RL's Freshta Jalalzai in Prague and local correspondents with RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan