Female Afghan judges flee country

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Female judges in Afghanistan have gone into hiding following repeated death threats from rapists and murderers they have helped convicted but have been released from prison by the Taliban when they took power.

Speaking to the BBC on behalf of over 200 female judges in the country who are currently in hiding, six former female judges said they had to go into hiding after receiving threats from the men they imprisoned.

The women said they were moving every few days, as the Taliban had been searching for them, visiting their former homes and harassing their relatives.

The six female former judges who had dealt with cases like murder, torture, rape, and violence against women, said they were just six of the 220 female judges across Afghanistan who were now in hiding.

According to the report, every one of them had received death threats and had to change their phone numbers.

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All of them say they have been changing their locations every few days to avoid being tracked down.

One of the judges, who was identified simply as Masooma, had sentenced a man to 20 years in prison for murdering his wife.

“After the case was over, the criminal approached me and said: ‘When I get out of prison, I will do to you what I did to my wife,’” Masooma said.

She added that, since the Taliban takeover, “he has called me many times and said he has taken all of my information from the court offices.”

“He told me: ‘I will find you and have my revenge.’”

“I can still see the image of that young woman in my mind. It was a brutal crime.

“At the time I didn’t take him seriously. But since the Taliban took power, he has called me many times and said he has taken all of my information from the court offices.”

In her career as a judge, Masooma had convicted hundreds of men for violence against women, including rape, murder and torture.

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Another woman named Sanaa, who was a judge for more than 30 years, said she had received “more than 20 threatening phone calls from former inmates who have now been released.”

She says the majority of her cases involved convicting members of the Taliban as well as militant group Isis.

“I have received more than 20 threatening phone calls from former inmates who have now been released.”

She is currently in hiding with more than a dozen family members.

She said that a male relative who returned to her family home was met by a Taliban member looking for her, and that the fighter beat him so badly that he had to go to the hospital.

But a Taliban spokesman, Bilal Karimi, who was asked to comment on the allegations, said:

“Female judges should live like any other family without fear. No-one should threaten them. Our special military units are obliged to investigate such complaints and act if there is a violation.”

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