Coronavirus lockdowns have led to a significant uptick in calls to domestic violence hotlines worldwide
By Orooj Hakimi
KABUL, May 15 (Reuters) - An Afghan man cut off his wife's nose with a kitchen knife after she asked for a divorce, officials said on Friday, amid a surge in domestic violence triggered by the coronavirus lockdown.
The 24-year-old victim, mother of a seven-year-old boy, was trying leave an abusive husband who had prevented her from moving out of their house in the southwestern province of Paktika, said Khoshboo Maidanwal, head of the provincial women's affairs department.
"Her husband hit her and chopped off her nose with a sharp kitchen knife," she said. "She wanted a divorce because he abused her and beat her frequently."
The attack happened this month and police arrested the husband this week. His wife was sent to her father's home after treatment.
Maidanwal said her office has registered 13 violent cases of domestic abuse in the past two months.
"The lockdown due to the coronavirus has made domestic situation even worse for women," she said, adding that one reason behind the increase could be that more women are reporting abuse.
Afghanistan ranks near the bottom of global indices on gender equality, with forced marriages, honour killings and domestic violence prevalent nationwide.
Rights groups estimate that more than half Afghan women face domestic abuse at some point in their lives.
A Feb. 29 deal between the United States and the Taliban called for a phased U.S. troop withdrawal and for the government and Taliban to release some prisoners by March 10, when peace talks were to start.
Intra-Afghan peace talks have yet to take place. Many women fear losing freedoms hard-earned since U.S.-backed Afghan forces overthrew the austere Islamist militants in 2001.
During their 1996-2001 rule, the Taliban banned women from education and work and only let them leave their homes in the company of a male relative. Overnight, women disappeared behind the all-enveloping burqa, their activities restricted to their homes.
(Writing by Rupam Jain; Editing by Nick Macfie)