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'I tried to burn myself to death'

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An Afghan women

Women's rights in Afghanistan are at their worst in rural areas, where there are few if any police and justice is often the preserve of local village Jirgas, or community meetings.

When one of her relatives eloped with a girl already promised to another man, Shabana and eight of her sisters and female cousins were given by order of the Jirga to the "wronged" man's extended family as a form of compensation known as baad.

In the second of his series of reports from Afghanistan, Mike Thomson speaks to Shabana, who only escaped after 12 years of beatings and abuse.

Forced to marry a "violent and cruel" 40-year-old member of the family when only 12-years-old, she was forbidden from leaving the house or even walking in an outdoor courtyard.

"My sharpest memories are the beatings," she told him. "I tried to kill myself several times. The first time a drank bleach, and on another occasion acid."


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