I could hear the neighbor guy insulting my Mom as they were arguing outside our apartment. “You bitch… stupid motherf****er…” Suddenly, I heard something fall down. I ran out and saw my mother on the ground, half conscious. The neighbor guy was still hitting her. I pushed him off, but he hit me in the face with his fist. My mother’s nose was bleeding; one eye was shut. My 13-year-old brother, Almas, was crying. I did not know what to do.
Finally, the neighbor’s wife managed to pull the guy downstairs into their home. We took my mom inside. Her nose seemed broken and blood was coming out like water. When she felt a little better she went to the police station near our apartment to complain about that neighbor guy.
We live in an apartment in a nice neighborhood with mostly good neighbors. But we had this neighbor who was very arrogant and scurrilous. Outside he was well mannered but at home he was someone else. We often heard him insulting his old mother and telling her really bad things.
This all started because of something small and worthless. When the lock of the main door was broken, my younger brother used to put an iron rod behind the main garage door to keep it closed so that no one can steal the motorcycle, cart, and his bicycle. This was going on for almost a week and my younger brother was like a doorkeeper to other apartment neighbors, opening the door for them and closing it after them.
One day this neighbor Ahmad came inside, and he did not put the iron behind the door. My little brother told my mom and she went outside and asked Ahmad why didn’t he put that rod behind the door? Would he take the responsibility if something is lost?
As soon as she said this Ahmad opened his mouth and closed his eyes and started saying insults that my mom in her 35 years of life had not heard from a man. She got really mad and threw her sandal at him, but it missed him, and then he ran upstairs and started beating her.
First, she went to complain at the nearby police station. Then she went to the hospital for stitches in her nose. Her left eye was purple and swollen. As she was going through this process, my other brother, Edris, came home and saw us with red eyes, crying. He asked us what happened and we told him.
He ran downstairs and knocked on Ahmad’s door before I could stop him. As soon as Ahmad opened the door, before my brother Edris could even open his mouth Ahmad pulled him inside. Then his father-in-law held my brother and Ahmad started hitting him all over, two against one. When my brother came upstairs, his face was red and his eye was swollen. He was not crying, but I knew that they beat him a lot.
Later that night, my mom came home and saw my brother in that condition. It was the worst day in my life.
My beautiful mom was beaten by a naamah’ram, a stranger. In Islam, men are two kinds for women: one is mahram. Mahram men are like father, brother, uncle, husband. But other men are naamah’ram, which means they cannot see us like mahram men can and of course they cannot touch us in any way. And my brother Edris was beaten by two guys. It was a mournful night for all of us.
After that night, the court process started. Imagine a single woman who wants to fight for her right in a country like Afghanistan and does not know about the process and there is no one to guide her correctly. Both my mom and my brother filled out complaints against Ahmad. It was clearly violence against a woman, but because he was a man no one in the court even allowed my mom to talk and defend her rights.
In the court, they treated my mom as the criminal and Ahmad as the victim. During that time the police put Ahmad in jail, but only for one night because he bribed the responsible people. The court fined Ahmad a small amount of money, but my mom was not satisfied. She requested another court, but this one also fined him a small amount of money and that was it.
My mom went to every place she thought could help. She went to the Human Rights Commission, but no one helped. During all this process, my mother changed. She lost four kilos in one month, but worse than that, she was depressed.
She did not give up. Her goal was to see him in jail for at least six months. She even went to Kabul to the Supreme Court, but when they looked at her case, they told her nothing more can be done because the medical records she had were not strong enough. There was not any mention of the stitches. She came back home without being able to gain her rights.
Since then, she has changed. She still is the strongest person I have ever known in my life, but after that event she got depressed and whenever something comes up and reminds her of those days, tears fall down from her beautiful eyes. But she does not show it to us. I hope that as time goes by she forgets it little by little. I know that she does not allow such an event to weaken her. But I hope Allah makes it easier for her to forget such horrible memory.
Photo – REUTERS/Caren Firouz