In a recent Marie Claire article, "Why Are These Women in Jail?" women - and their children - are even imprisoned for many years for absurd reasons:
In Afghanistan, the most commonly practiced form of judicial "due process" simply requires two men to accuse a woman of a crime. Case closed. No burden of proof or defense. A group of respected male elders hands down the sentence. (Men also appear before this council, or jirga, but usually to settle debts or property disputes. Their wives and daughters are often traded and enslaved to resolve such debts.) For women, typical "moral crimes" punishable by prison—or death—include refusing to marry a rapist, having an affair (or simply getting accused of having an affair), and murder-by-proxy, wherein a male family member kills someone and assigns the prison sentence to a female.
An estimated 860 women are currently behind bars in the country, along with 620 girls between the ages of 12 and 17, and 280 children, according to the U.S. State Department and the Corrections System Support Program, or CSSP, a private U.S. contractor tasked with reforming Afghan prisons. Ninety-five percent of these women are convicted of "moral crimes."
Kinah, 21, is a striking beauty with the black-coffee eyes of many in Balkh Province. She sits in one of two rooms that imprison 40 women and 18 children, rocking her 6-month-old daughter, who is nestled in a sheet tied to a chair and bedpost. At age 6, Kinah was promised in marriage to a 40-year-old man, but at 16, she ran away, marrying a young man she loved. She is now a convicted adulteress and widow, as her former fiancé tracked her down and shot her husband. The murderer was sentenced to 10 years; Kinah was sentenced to 12. The room echoes incessantly with children's coughing. The courtyard offers the only escape, where tents serve as shelter from below-freezing temperatures. "Sometimes we have no milk for the children," Kinah says, holding her baby close.
For aid groups in the region, yearly budgets are slim. These groups stay afloat thanks to donations, intermittent federal grants, and iron-willed directors who often work without salaries.It's frightening that this is happening to women. I wish they had the same freedom and voice that we have. One thing that can be done: buy one of their t-shirts for $25 ("Not Guilty" T-shirt). "The Afghan Women's Justice Project will send the proceeds to the nonprofits helping Afghan women and kids in prison. One shirt purchase buys a child's milk for a month or school supplies for 10 prisoners."
Perhaps buying a t-shirt seems like a very small way to help, but it does spread the message - and offers some support for a truly awful situation.