Bibi Aisha's fight for justice just got much, much harder.
The only man ever arrested in connection with her maiming has reportedly been set free, six months after he was taken into custody, a move that has caused considerable alarm among human-rights advocates. As The Daily Beast first reported last December, Aisha's father-in-law, Sulaiman, was arrested in the Chora district of Uruzgan province for his role in holding down the young woman and cutting off her nose with a knife as punishment for escaping her abusive marriage. Neither Aisha's husband nor his brother, both of whom are reported to have been involved in the attack, have ever been found, and are said to be on the run.
Human-rights and women's-rights advocates who have worked with Aisha are outraged by the release, first reported by The New York Times on Monday. “Events like this show that those people who violate women can do so with impunity; that the government is not going to hold them accountable,” said Esther Hyneman of Women for Afghan Women, the women's shelter that has cared for Aisha since American military officials evacuated the young woman to Kabul in late 2009. “I am shocked about this in one way. But in another way not so surprised, given what we know of justice in Afghanistan and the attitude toward women's rights that is expressed by the action of law-enforcement officials and higher-ups in the government.”