Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday pardoned an Afghan woman serving a 12-year prison sentence for having sex out of wedlock after she was raped by a relative.
Karzai’s office said in a statement that the woman and her attacker have agreed to marry. That would reverse an earlier decision by the 19-year-old woman, who had previously refused a judge’s offer of freedom if she agreed to marry the rapist.
Her plight was highlighted in a documentary that the European Union blocked because it feared the women featured in the film would be in danger if it were shown.
More than 5,000 people recently signed a petition urging Karzai to release the woman. She had the man’s child while in prison and raised her daughter behind bars, which is common among women imprisoned in Afghanistan.
The woman told The Associated Press in an interview last month that she had hoped that attention generated by the EU film might help her get released. With the film blocked, she said that she was losing hope and considering marrying her rapist as a way out. She said her attacker was pressuring her to stop giving interviews.
Some of the most severe restrictions women faced under the Taliban, like a ban on attending schools and having to have a male escort to venture outside the home, were done away with when the radical Islamic movement was driven from power in 2001. But Afghanistan remains a deeply conservative and male-dominated society, meaning women are still sold to husbands and rights enshrined in law are often ignored in practice.