Afghan woman, Estorai, murdered for giving birth to another daughter by husband

An Afghan woman was allegedly strangled to death by her husband for giving birth to a third daughter, rather than a son, police in Afghanistan said on Monday, Reuters reported.

The victim, identified only as Estorai, was found dead by a neighbor in her home in the Khanabad district in the Kunduz province, the Associated Press reported. According to medical examiners, she appeared to have been strangled, District Police Chief Sufi Habibullah said. Estorai’s husband, Sher Mohammad, a local militiaman, fled Khanabad shortly after her body was found.

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Estorai had warned family members that her husband threatened her after she gave birth to another daughter, rather than a son, and said he would kill her if it happened again. While boy babies are traditionally prized more highly than girl babies in Afghanistan, a murder over a baby’s gender would be considered rare and shocking if true, the AP reported.

Provincial police spokesman Sayed Sarwar Husaini said her body also showed signs of torture, the AFP reported. The man’s mother was also taken into custody for collaborating with her son in a plot to kill her daughter-in-law, the AP reported. Nadira Ghya, provincial women’s affairs chief who is handling the case, spoke with the man’s mother in jail, who swore Estorai committed suicide by hanging herself. Police have yet to find a rope or any evidence from the woman’s wounds that she committed suicide.

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"The existence of militiamen is a huge problem and therefore we face difficulty in arresting him," said Kunduz police chief Sufi Habib, Reuters reported. It is likely Estorai’s husband is being sheltered by heavily-armed militia colleagues.

"The rights of women cannot be relegated to the margins of international affairs, as this issue is at the core of our national security and the security of people everywhere," the US embassy in Kabul said in a statement on Monday, Reuters reported.

In the last few months women in Afghanistan have made headlines for grisly crimes done against them, including a 15-year-old girl who was tortured and forced into prostitution by her in-laws, and a female rape victim who was imprisoned for adultery, the AP reported. Abuse and repression are still common for women in Afghanistan, although great strides have been made in the last 10 years since the ouster of the Taliban.

According to the British charity Oxfam, 87 percent of Afghan women have reported experiencing physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage, the AFP reported. In the second quarter of 2011, 1,026 cases of violence against women were logged by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. In 2010, a total of 2,700 cases were logged, the AFP reported.

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