Saliha was 15 years old when her father received 120,000 Pakistani rupees (about $1,425 USD) in return for agreeing to marry her. Her fiancé, Ghani, son of Baqi, was more than 30 years old, had been married once, and had children. He lived in Kandahar. Saliha was unhappy with her father’s decision but had no other choice than to follow his orders.

Saliha and Ghani became legally married, but Saliha was living at her sister’s home. Two men from Ghani’s town kidnapped her and took her to his home. From there, she ran away and went to her aunt in Kandahar.

Saliha’s husband accused her of robbery and made a police complaint against her. The police arrested Saliha. She was charged with stealing jewelry from her husband’s home. They placed Saliha in the Police Headquarters’ Detention Center.

A female police officer, Ms. Mallalai, told Saliha that she would help her. She said she would keep Saliha in the police detention for three nights and lock the door. On the first night of Saliha’s detainment, however, a policeman who covered his face with a cloth entered the room and raped her. The next day the police sent Saliha’s file to the Prosecutor’s office and sent her to the prison for the case of robbery.

On April 1, 2006, Saliha told a gender assistant visiting the prison what had happened. The assistant was from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. UNAMA regularly sends representative into the prisons to visit women and check their conditions. That’s how Saliha was able to tell them her story. UNAMA pursued the case with the prosecutor’s office, and Saliha was released from prison.

But was this good for Saliha? Though freed, Saliha warned us that her family would never accept her into their home again. We don’t know where she is now, or if she is even alive.

By Yagana