Man killed wife 'for bearing third daughter'

Kabul

Police in Afghanistan are searching for a man accused of strangling his wife after she bore him a third daughter when he wanted a son.

The killing is the latest in a series of incidents highlighting how entrenched violence against women is in Afghan society, 10 years after the draconian Taliban regime was ousted from power.

Sher Mohammad went on the run last week after his wife, Storai, 22, was found dead at their home in the Khanabad district of northern Kunduz province. Police have arrested his mother, who is accused of helping to kill her daughter-in-law. Storai had told relatives that her husband threatened to kill her if she did not give birth to a son, said Nadira Geya, head of the provincial women's affairs department. Ms Geya added that it was one of the worst cases of domestic abuse she had seen.

In the same province in November, an armed gang sprayed acid into the face of a teenager and her two sisters after their family turned down the advances of an aging warlord. The burns were so horrific that the victim, Mumtaz, had to be sent to India for treatment.

Another case that hit the headlines last month involved a 15-year-old girl, Sahar Gul, who was rescued from a dark, windowless room in her in-laws' house where she had been tortured and starved after refusing to enter into prostitution. Acknowledging the problem, the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, recently announced plans to hold a conference in February on eliminating violence against women. The United States Embassy in Kabul has welcomed the initiative.

Some reports suggest Storai's husband is a member of a local militia group and is being sheltered by his associates.

"The existence of militiamen is a huge problem and therefore we face difficulty in arresting him," Kunduz police chief, Sufi Habib, said.

But Sediq Sediqi, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior, said he could not confirm whether Storai's husband belonged to a militia or not.

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