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.

By Seeta

Photo: Shah Marai /AFP/Getty Images