Activists said the girl appeared in court after being taken to a women's shelter for safety from some members of her own family, who had threatened to kill her for bringing "dishonour" on them.
The sentence, passed by a court in Kabul on Saturday, came just weeks after five men were hanged for the gang-rape of four adult women and was hailed as a victory by activists.
|Nooses hang at Pul-e-Charkhi prison, on the outskirts of Kabul. |
The Mullah who raped an 11-year-old girl escaped the death penalty. Photo / AFP
She first tried to hide what had happened to her but was later admitted to hospital for bleeding, where doctors discovered the rape.
The mullah was arrested by police later.
"We are happy for the court's decision but we wanted him to be executed," Sarwari said.
Her organisation supported the girl in her case and gave her shelter in Kabul.
"After the rape happened the family of the girl wanted to kill her out of shame, even the nurses were not ready to treat her when she was bleeding in the hospital," she said.
"They would shout 'May you die, you brought disgrace to our family!' and 'We will kill you and dump your body in the river'.
"We got scared too, but we somehow managed to sneak her out of the hospital and take her to a WAW shelter," she added.
The girl was later brought to Kabul where she was treated for genital injuries and kept in a women's shelter before she appeared in court.
Shaima Qasemi, the girl's lawyer, said the girl cried in court and shouted for the Mullah to be hanged.
"For now she is happy to see that the Mullah who committed the crime has been sentenced to jail," she added.
Mohammad Rasool, the girl's uncle who was among those who backed her, said: "We welcome the decision by the Kabul court."
Benafsha Efaf Amiri, another member of the WAW, said that although the cleric had admitted having sex with the girl, he tried to persuade the court it was consensual and he should therefore only receive 100 lashes as punishment.
Judge Sulaiman Rasouli rejected that argument because it would entail lashing the girl too and treating her as an adulterer rather than a rape victim.
Amiri hailed the verdict as a victory for Afghan women, who still face violence despite reforms since the fall of the hardline Islamist Taleban in 2001.
It's just a baby step, but it's a step. I'm happy to see that the judge denied the Mullah's weak argument, that the sentence was significant, and I'm happy to see that the girl's uncle supported her. Perhaps there is some hope to getting rid of the ridiculous practice of 'honour killing'. The practice of killing the victim, rather than the perpetrator, to restore honour is utterly insane.
Please pray for this little girl's safety and recovery from her attack.