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Afghan woman whose husband cut off her ears seeks treatment abroad

Zarina, 23, and whose husband cut off both her ears in an attack, sits on a bed as she receives treatment at a hospital Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan on February 2, 2017 © AFP / Farshad USYAN

Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, Feb 2 – An Afghan woman whose husband cut off her ears said Thursday she was seeking donations for treatment abroad, as activists condemned the latest gruesome incident to highlight the abuse of women in the conservative country.

Zarina, 23, was still hospitalised in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif Thursday, her mutilated ears bandaged and her face swollen.

She told AFP that she could not explain why her husband attacked her in the middle of the night Tuesday in a remote district of Balkh province, bordering Uzbekistan.

“He woke up at three in the morning, he tied my legs, my hands with my veil … I was begging him (to stop) but he didn’t listen to me.”

The husband punched his young wife several times then grabbed a sharp knife and sliced both her ears before disappearing.

Zarina bled all night, until a neighbour found her in the morning and rushed her to relatives, who took her to hospital in Mazar-i-Sharif, capital of Balkh province.

“She arrived at the ICU at 9.30, both of her ears were cut. She was in shock … imagine how much blood she lost,” said hospital chief Dr Shafir Shayek.

Zarina said she did not know why her husband attacked her, saying she had always obeyed him, even when he refused to let her visit her mother “because he said I might meet boys”.

“He was very rude, very harsh, when he became angry he started beating everyone — his dad, his mum, he didn’t care,” she said.

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Zarina and her husband were betrothed when she was 13, though they did not marry for another seven years. Hospital officials said he was known for drug use, though they did not specify which drug.

On Thursday the man was still on the run, but “we opened an investigation to stop him,” said Balkh governor’s spokesman Sher Jan Durrani.

Zarina said she is seeking private donations to fund a trip abroad for treatment. If she cannot raise the money, she said, “I implore Afghan officials” for help.

Balkh women’s rights activist Fahima Rahimi said the attack was “only the latest” example of “disgusting violence” and against Afghan women.

“Afghan officials should bring the perpetrator of this crime to justice so that it be a lesson for others,” she said.

But, she added, many such criminals are freed after bribes to police or prosecutors, and so activists had “lost faith and trust in our government”.

Many other cases of violence against women go unreported, she said.

More than fifteen years after the end of the Taliban regime, Afghanistan remains the scene of regular abuse against women, most often perpetrated by spouses or in-laws who are rarely arrested.

In January 2016, a husband cut off the nose of his wife, Reza Gul, after a dispute in the remote northern province of Faryab. Last summer a man set fire to his 14-year-old pregnant wife in the central province of Ghor. She died in a hospital in Kabul.

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