Today I take to the keyboard to write the saddest story, a story about a young girl who just kept repeating these words: “There are no humans here, all are animals.”
She is only sixteen years old, an Afghan girl who had been growing up in Iran, but had recently returned to Afghanistan, to the Pusht-e-Koh District of Farah Province. She was, I imagine, thinking about her future in her own country. Maybe she dreamed of starting her education, becoming an important person, marrying, and living in peace in her own country.
But in Farah, the worst part of her life began. She was raped by a group of policemen at a checkpoint in Tujig village.
I heard about her story from another journalist, and went to the hospital where she was taken after the policemen raped her for an entire day. When it seemed she might die, these men brought her to the hospital around 9 p.m. With another reporter, I searched the official documents and discovered a few details. This smart, beautiful girl arrived at the hospital in bad condition. She was covered in blood, but locked in chains. She did not have the strength to stand on her feet or walk. She had lost control of her urine due to what she had undergone. The tests at the hospital showed she was not pregnant but had lost her hymen.
Gullaqa, who works at the hospital, saw the girl come in. “She arrived in a bad state mentally. She just kept repeating, ‘All here are animals, not human, and cruel,’” Gullaqa said.
After being cared for in the hospital, the girl’s nightmare was not over. Police then took her to jail. They said she was a smuggler or perhaps, because she spoke Farsi, a spy for Iran. That is where she remains now.
Some questions are left without answers.
How did this girl arrive at the checkpoint? Was she kidnapped and taken there?
How long was she kept at the checkpoint?
Even if she was a smuggler or a spy, which has not been proven, why was she taken to the Farah Province jail without proper legal authority?
The officials did not allow reporters to talk with the girl. They said she was sent to jail on the basis of a letter from the prosecutor’s office saying she should be jailed.
But her story sparked sympathy in Col. Sayed Ahmad, the officer at the Farah jail. “She only speaks Farsi because she grew up in Iran,” he said. “When I see her, tears come to my eyes, because I am a human. Why is she in jail? This is wrong, and we should be sorry for this.”
If she is guilty of crimes, I really hope someone can be found to answer the question of why she was raped instead of being arrested. Police are here to protect Afghans. They should support people, not put them at risk and destroy their lives.
photo: Paula Bronstein / Getty Images
Seeta: Your work as a journalist — asking hard questions and bringing stories like this girl’s to light — is so important. Keep up the good work.
This story is shocking. In whom can we trust? In no person? How could policemen do that with this poor girl? As you mentioned, they have to protect people, not to make them suffer. You narrated just one case about the police do, but can you imagine how many times the same act has happened? It is very sad…
How horrible! I hope that one day these men will face justice for their actions. Seeta, thank you for your good work. Please keep us updated.
This is a heartbreaking, horrific story. This young woman sits in jail while her attackers are free to continue their ways. I hope the Col. will look after her until she can gain her freedom. I’m impressed with your writing, Seeta. You continue to grow as a journalist. I admire your tenacity in going after the hard stories and making sure the world knows what is happening where you are. Please let us know what happens to this woman.
I agree. All here are animals, no humans. Why couldn’t anyone make a case against the police for raping this girl?
That sympathetic officer in prison should help her escape jail.
Such a sad story, thank you for bringing this to life
Seeta, I have read another one of your stories. Is this how life is in Afghan? I am very sorry to be seeing this sort of thing going on. Was she ever released from her jailing? Do you know why those police officers did such a thing? Thanks for sharing this with the world. You have inspired me to look at everything with a new perspective. You are amazing letting everyone know of these things.