"She took me inside her home and hid me. When [Mahgul's] husband left to go to the bakery, she told me to come out. She held her [Mahgul's] legs while I beheaded her," he continued. "I asked her [Parigul] why she wanted to behead Mahgul. She said, 'I hate her because she doesn't listen to me.'"
Herat's police chief, General Sayed Abdul Ghafar, said police had initially arrested Mahgul's mother-in-law, father-in-law, and husband, but later also arrested Najibullah after witnesses came forward to say they had seen him carrying a bloody knife as he left the crime scene on the night of the killing.
Ghafar, who said the four had yet to be formally charged, said the investigation concluded that the main motive for the crime was Mahgul's refusal to become a prostitute, a demand he said was made by her in-laws. Mahgul's family, who expressed their shock at the brutal killing, rallied along with dozens of women's right activists outside a police station in Herat on October 15 to protest what they said were delays by the police in bringing charges over the crime.
In a statement released on October 17, Amnesty International strongly condemned the beheading. "The tragic fate of Mahgul is one more incident that highlights the violent atmosphere that women and girls face in Afghanistan and the region," said Suzanne Nossel, Amnesty International USA executive director.
Plague Of Violence In Herat
Mahgul's murder comes after the body of a 30-year-old woman was found in Herat's Pamanare district at the beginning of October. The victim, who had had her nose, ears, and fingers removed, was taken to Herat regional hospital, where doctors said she was tortured before being killed.
Herat's district attorney office, who confirmed the authorities had yet to make any arrests in that case, said investigations were ongoing. The two recent cases bring to around 20 the number of women slain this year, according to Herat's Department for Women's Affairs office, which added that family members were accused of involvement in most of the cases.
The slayings have worked to highlight the bleak situation for women in Afghanistan, where domestic abuse is routine, arranged marriages are the norm, and female suicide rates are among the highest in the world.
Afghan women have won back basic rights in education, voting, and employment since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001, but many are still routinely subjected to domestic violence and abuse. Herat, in particular, has been grappling with high levels of violence against women, mostly because it is one of the largest and most populous provinces in Afghanistan. The director of the local Department of Women's Affairs in Herat, Jamshidi Mahbubeh, says her office has documented more than 700 cases involving violence against women in the past year.