A photograph of an Afghan woman whose nose was sliced off by her husband in a fit of rage has sparked revulsion across the country, with activists demanding punishment for the “barbaric act”.

Reza Gul, 20, was taken to hospital after she was attacked with a pocket knife on Sunday by her husband who is said to be on the run.

“My husband (Mohammad Khan) tied up my hands and cut off my nose,” Mrs Gul told AFP in a frail voice from her hospital bed, with a white bandage on her face.

“He tortured me a lot,” she added, with her one-year-old baby wailing by her side.

The incident highlights the endemic violence against women in Afghan society, despite reforms since the hardline Taliban Islamist regime was ousted in a 2001 US-led invasion.

“Such a brutal and barbaric act should be strongly condemned,” Kabul-based women’s rights activist Alema told AFP.

“Such incidents would not happen if the government judicial system severely punished attacks on women,” added Alema, who goes by one name.

The disfigured woman’s photograph was widely shared on social media, prompting calls for tough action against the husband following the attack in Ghormach district in the northwestern province of Faryab.

Local officials said Mrs Gul would need reconstructive surgery, which was not possible in the local government hospital.

Mrs Gul, who was married off five years ago as a teenager, said she suffered regular physical abuse from her husband, forcing her to flee to her parents’ home in a Taliban-controlled area.

While there, she said, the insurgents mediated in her case, making her husband, an unemployed man, to swear by the Koran that he would not hurt her again.

But soon after she returned to him, he sliced off her nose.

“Gul’s village is under Taliban control… but the police are trying to chase her husband,” Sayed Aqa Andarabi, Faryab police chief, told AFP.

The Afghan government has vowed to protect women’s rights but that has not prevented violent attacks.