Alarm Rises Over Future for Afghan Women Prisoners
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Herat jail, home to 169 inmates, is Afghanistan's second-largest prison for women. Many of the inmates are here after fleeing abuse or forced marriages. Rape victims are also routinely jailed on the grounds that they had sex outside marriage. Some have given birth in prison. Sima Alizada insists she's committed no crime.

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Herat jail, home to 169 inmates, is Afghanistan's second-largest prison for women. Many of the inmates are here after fleeing abuse or forced marriages. Rape victims are also routinely jailed on the grounds that they had sex outside marriage. Some have given birth in prison. Sima Alizada insists she's committed no crime. (SOUNDBITE) (Dari) SIMA ALIZADA, FEMALE PRISONER, ACCUSED OF MURDERING HER SISTER- IN- LAW; SAYING: "I and my mother are accused of murdering my sister-in-law but it is not true, we haven't committed any sin. She was suffering from a stomach illness but the government blamed us for her death. It is almost two years that we are imprisoned . The government sentenced me to six years in prison and my mother eight years." The head of Herat jail says for now the prison offers training in English and computer classes, skills that many women might otherwise never have acquired. (SOUNDBITE) (Dari) AFGHAN FEMALE COLONEL, SIMA PAZHMAN, HEAD OF THE WOMEN PRISON IN HERAT; SAYING: "There are good facilities and living conditions for prisoners here. The only limitation prisoners have here is that they are not allowed to go out. Based on human rights law we are giving these prisoners full freedoms and facilities, there is good food and water provided for them ." But there are growing fears for the future of the country's female prisoners, as foreign troops plan to withdraw. Herat jail gets support from an Italian reconstruction team but that could end as it winds down its operations. If the United States pulls out, others are expected to follow, along with the bulk of foreign aid. The government has shown little interest in protecting women's rights and most of its limited funds will be devoted to fighting a Taliban insurgency.