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When Survivors are Punished: Brishna's Story

Updated: May 14, 2020

Brishna sits on a bed at a detention center in Kabul, where she is serving a 18 year sentence.
Brishna pictured at a detention center in Kabul, where she is serving an 18-year sentence.

UPDATE: On May 3, 2020, Brishna was released from prison. As a result of President Ghani's COVID-19 Amnesty decree, and the fierce advocacy her lawyers, Brishna is free. Learn more here.

Brishn'a Story

Brishna is a wife, a mother, and a laundress by profession. She is also a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault at the hands of her cousin–the same cousin who beat her young son to death.

Trauma manifests in many forms. Fear of her cousin and for the safety of her other child forced Brishna into silence about her son’s murder.

When the truth about her son’s death came out, instead of receiving the gender-sensitive and trauma-informed treatment she needed, Brishna was denied victim services, then wrongly convicted of adultery and being an accessory to her son’s murder. Now, she is serving an 18- year sentence.

The justice system failed Brishna and often fails the more than 50 percent of Afghan women who have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in their lifetime. Despite our repeated requests, the court system delayed a forensic medical examination that would have documented abuse, denied Brishna’s pretrial release to a women’s shelter, and failed to transfer her case to Afghanistan’s specialized courts for the elimination of violence against women (EVAW).

We are fighting for Brishna’s release and for a justice system that supports survivors.

Read more about Brishna’s story in The Washington Post.


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