I am proud of women in my country because they are fighting to change society. But when I look at the last ten years of terrible events, it can sound even worse than with the Taliban regime.
There’s Sahar Gul, who was only fifteen years old and was tortured by her in-laws in a house jail for five months last year. This treatment was more horrible than you can find in prison. She was lucky she was rescued or she would have died.
Then there is Aisha and her sister who were sacrificed the year before because of their brother’s mistake. Aisha and her sister were handed over to a family whose son was killed by the girls’ brother. In Afghanistan it is a custom that if a boy kills a boy from another family the killer’s family should pay a price of two girls.
No one was thinking about Aisha’s and her sister’s lives when they were given to the family. What will happen to them? Will they kill them? Beat them? Burn them? They were just thinking that their son should be alive, even if he had made mistakes. So Aisha lost her beloved sister and the family cut off Aisha’s ears and nose and left her to die.
Salma and Sadat
Next there is Salma who is now in prison with her baby because she killed the person who wanted to rape her. She killed him to protect herself. She did not want to kill him. Now she is in prison with a young daughter.
What about Sadat, who is fifteen years old and was forced to marry and is now in hospital? She burned herself because there wasn’t anyone to listen to how she had to fight for her life every day when her husband beat her. This is common. Every day we hear how all over Afghanistan women are burning themselves without telling their story.
These women will not forget their pain. Sahar Gul cannot forget her ordeal. Aisha will not forget her sister. Salma’s daughter will grow up in a prison environment. Sadat may die.
But it also is true that we are trying to change this situation, if not in time for ourselves, then for our daughters. People and society try to ignore us with their rules, which they say come from Islam.
They cite Shia personal law that says:
- A woman cannot go out without her husband’s permission.
- Whenever your husband wants sex you have to accept it, even if you do not want to.
- You can wear makeup only for your husband. When he is not home you cannot.
- A baby should be born after nine months and two lunar weeks. Otherwise the husband has the right to do whatever he wants because this is not his own child.
There is something really funny in this because those rules are not in the holy Quran.
Women on TV
Today, the government makes new rules—things like women TV presenters must wear a very cumbersome hijab or they risk going to prison and cannot work. The intent is to keep women from going on TV.
But I am proud of my c0untry’s women because still they are fighting, not caring about themselves so much as to achieve goals for a brighter future.
We have women who will make sacrifices because they care about their country. Consider Parwin, the sixteen-year-old girl who agreed to marry an old warlord if he would stop fighting against the government. He gave up his weapons and they married recently. She killed her dream to do her part for this country as an Afghan girl. Afghanistan’s women do not give up. We tell our stories to the world so they will know who we are.
Photo by Julian Simmonds