Roya, like many other Afghan girls, married when she was 13. She wanted to be a good mother, a teacher, and a woman who could serve her country.
Now her dreams are broken. She is beautiful and educated and now she is in jail. Why? Because she wanted to save her life and keep respect for her marriage to Nakah.
The story started when Roya began attending an English course and a man who lived between her house and her class began asking her to become his girlfriend. She told him that she was married and had two children. The man still bothered her, saying she must escape with him and go to Kabul.
Roya would not listen to the man, but one night when her husband was at work the man came to her house. He wanted to come inside and Roya cried for help. Her neighbors came and there was a clash between the men who came to help Roya and the man. He had a knife, and in the fighting the man was stabbed. He was taken to the hospital, but he died. Police arrested Roya and her neighbors.
When the case went to the court, because Roya was a woman, she was given a woman attorney. Women attorneys do not have the opportunity to provide strong evidence in court. They are always threatened and told that women cannot do the job of the courts. Roya was sentenced to 23 years.
“I just wanted to save myself and now I have to pass all of my age in jail. I did not kill that person. It happened because he wanted to rape me and I did not let him. I am only 23 years old. My two children want their mother, but their mother is in jail.”
When I went to visit her in prison she looked old and disappointed, even though we are the same age. She said she did not want to talk to me because I could not help her.
A thousand reporters come to the jail to write stories, but no one writes about the problems of the women in the prison, she said.
Roya told me that if she had not married young, maybe this would not have happened because she would be protected by her family. She asked me to write that parents should not marry their daughters before the legal age.
I promised her that I would write about her story so people could know it.
Photo: Shah Marai /AFP/Getty Images
Thankyou for Roya´s Story. We are so incredibly complacent about our Freedom……those of us who are so lucky to have it. Why must it be that Roya exists as this Woman behind bars……trying simply to defend her dignity and her sanity? Why must it be that Roya cannot identify herself to us as that creator of pictures made from words? Why must it be that Roya cannot be left to be a loving mother? Why must it be that Roya cannot just be left alone? Why must it be that Roya cannot just lead her own simple Life? Why must it be that Injustice is such a Superbly Human-made Fabrication? Roya. This Afghan Woman in prison.
Dearest Seeta – thank you for being the voice of Roya in the telling of her so terrible story. This seems such an impossible situation, yet you speak it out to the world and we read of this sorry, sorry tale. If you see Roya again, tell her there are many women and men throughout the world who care that this injustice is happening. And we will do what we can to end this nightmare. Thank you, Seeta, for your love and caring for your friend to tell us of her and of you, her friend. This story fills my heart with such sadness and such love because of people like you Seeta who tell this awful tale. I hope you continue to speak. Diana
Thank you for sharing Roya’s story. Please let her know that she has many many women outside of Afghanistan who are saddened and outraged by her situation.
Seeta, please inform Roya that her story has touched me and I hate that this had to happen to her and that her children have to grow up without a mother. I hope you continue to tell Roya’s story and spead the word about her. I hate that this unfolded the way it did. This would have ended much differently in the United States. prayers are with you
Thank you for Roya’s story. I am so sorry about the justice system there. We do take ours for granted. I pray that somehow Roya will be set free to be the Mom and wife she deserves to be. Thank you. Mary Anne
Your article really touched me. I’ve translated and relayed it on my blog, and I hope it will help, even though it’s nothing much. With all my thoughts to Roya and other women.
Thank you for sharing this story. You paint a powerful portrait of the difficulties women face in your country. I hope that justice will come for Roya and all Afghan women.
My thoughts today will be with Roya. What a sad tale. Thanks for telling her story.