KABUL, Afghanistan – A man in a western Afghan city has confessed to stabbing his wife to death to prevent her from taking a job outside the home, police said Monday.
Mohammad Anwar, who was arrested in the provincial capital for the murder, said he killed his wife during an argument over whether she should work at private company in the city, Herat province police spokesman Noor Khan Nekzad said.
The woman's relatives disputed the account, saying her husband was a drug addict who killed his wife because she refused to give him money.
The killing comes less than two weeks after a woman was beheaded in the same city for refusing alleged demands by her in-laws to engage in prostitution.
Human rights activists say they are worried such incidents will become more common as Western forces who helped women gain rights in the conservative country draw down. Under Taliban rule, women were banned from leaving the home unless they had a male relative as an escort and wore a burqa robe that covered their faces and bodies.
Despite guaranteed rights and progressive new laws, the U.N. still ranks Afghanistan as one of the world's worst countries when it comes to women's rights.
The Taliban's treatment of women has been thrust back into the headlines this month with the shooting of a 15-year-old schoolgirl in neighboring Pakistan. The militants said they targeted the girl because she was an outspoken opponent of the group and promoted "Western thinking," such as girls' education.
Girls' schools have flourished in Afghanistan in particular in the years since the 2001 ouster of the Taliban, primarily funded by the U.S. and other Western donors.
There were conflicting accounts of what led to the fight between Mohammad Anwar and his wife Gulsom.
Gulsom's brother, Ghulam Sarwar, said his sister's husband had just returned from Iran and was pressing her to hand over money that she had earned weaving carpets and which she needed to support their two children. Sarwar said the two got into an argument and she fled the house. He followed her to her parents' house and then went after her with a knife.
The couple's two children — an 11-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old boy — have been taken in by Gulsom's parents, Sarwar said.
The victim's mother was shown on Afghan television crying and accusing her son-in-law of trying to sell her daughter's children for drug money. She witnessed the murder but said she had no way of stopping it.
"My daughter was killed in front of my eyes," said the sobbing Zahra, who family members said only went by one name.
Women's rights activists have already been up in arms in Herat after the Oct. 9 killing of a young woman named Mah Gul who was allegedly being forced into prostitution.
Police arrested Mah Gul's mother-in-law Pari Gul and her 18-year old cousin Najib, after the murder. Mabuba Jamshidi, head of the provincial women's affairs department, said that Najib had confessed to beheading the victim after she refused to perform "immoral acts."
Associated Press Writer Heidi Vogt contributed to this report in Kabul.