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Sitara, an Afghan woman whose husband cut her nose and lips when she refused to give him money for drugs, receiving medical treatment at a local hospital in Herat, Afghanistan, 13 December 2013.

Horrific

Afghan Man Slices Off Wife's Nose

A 30-year-old mother of four has been flown to Turkey for emergency surgery after her husband sliced off her nose and lips in a vicious attack witnessed by their children.

An Afghan woman has been flown to Turkey for emergency surgery after her husband sliced off her nose and lips apparently in punishment for refusing to sell her jewellery.

Sitara, 30, was found lying unconscious in her home on Friday when neighbours in Herat province were alerted by the cries of her four children.

The attack has been seized on by women’s rights campaigners as evidence that not enough is being done to protect fragile progress made since the Taliban was ousted from power in 2001.

It also revives memories of Aisha Mohammadzai, who was featured on the cover of Time three years ago after being mutilated in a similar way after fleeing her brutal husband an in-laws.

Details of the attack emerged soon after David Cameron, on a surprise visit to Afghanistan, said British troops would be leaving the country next year having delivered a basic level of security: “That is the mission, that was the mission and I think we will have accomplished that mission and so our troops can be very proud of what they have done.”

On Wednesday, police in Herat said they were searching for Sitara’s husband, Azim, in connection with Friday’s attack.

Her mother Naseema said he was addicted to heroin and had regularly beaten her daughter in the past for failing to give birth to a son. On Friday evening she said he asked her daughter – who was engaged at the age of 11 - for money and then demanded her gold ring when she said she had no cash.

“She told him that this ring was given to her by her father - Azim did not buy it for her,” she said.

He turned violent, knocking the mother-of-four unconscious with a rock collected from outside before taking a knife to her nose and top lip, said Naseema. It was all witnessed by her four young daughters, aged three to 12.

She spent five days in Afghan hospitals before being flown to Turkey on Wednesday.

The attacked has sparked outrage in Afghanistan. Demonstrators have taken to the streets to demand justice and the case taken up by human rights groups.

Fereshta, Sitara's 14-year-old daughter, said her father had a history of drug abuse and violence.

“Every time my mother refused to give money to my father, he would beat her,” she told local.

The attack comes amid fresh fears for women when Nato-led forces end combat missions next year. Activists wonder whether the rest of the world will forget Afghanistan, leaving it at the mercy of the Taliban and other hardliners.

A United Nations paper published earlier this month showed reported violence against women was on the rise – an increase of 28% in the past year.

In November, officials floated the idea of reintroducing stoning for the adultery before quickly withdrawing it amid an international outcry.

 

By Rob Crilly, Islamabad, and Zubair Babakarkhail

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