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Human Rights Watch Cites Abusive Treatment of Afghan Women

Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A new report by the Human Rights Watch alleges that women in Afghanistan are still treated as second-class citizens even under the guise of a democratic government.

In a statement, the group's executive director Kenneth Roth said, "It is shocking that ten years after the overthrow of the Taliban, women and girls are still imprisoned for running away from domestic violence or forced marriage."

For instance, a woman attempting to end a marriage to an abusive husband can be convicted of a "morals crime" and sentenced to as many as 15 years in jail.

The 120-page report based on interviews with women held in Afghan prisons describes females being beaten nearly to death by their husbands and forced to take spouses at an age when they are still considered children.

Other women said they were forced into prostitution -- including some girls as young as 14 -- then arrested and thrown into prison.

Human Rights Watch expressed concerns that if Afghan President Hamid Karzai negotiates a peace deal with the Taliban, what little progress women have made in Afghanistan will be rolled back if the country returns to a strict adherence of Sharia law.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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