My mother recently told me a story about a mother-in-law and the brides of her two married sons. They all lived in one house together in Ghor Province and the boys had not even met the girls before their mother arranged their marriages.
“When I was fifteen years old we had a neighbor who was an elderly woman who had two married sons,” my mother said. Their names were Hasan and Qurban.
“Her sons would go off to work and then return after three or four days. While they were gone, the mother-in-law tortured their wives.”
She told me how both of the girls had been married before they were eighteen. They were illiterate, and they knew nothing about their rights. The only thing they knew from experience was that their lives were already finished the day they were married.
The woman refused to give them any food. If she was feeling kind, she would give them each a piece of bread per day. The rest of the bread was locked in a box so they could not eat it.
If either of them made a mistake, the mother-in-law punished them. But the girls were starving so some days they tried to steal a piece of bread. The mother-in-law pulled out their fingernails with no compassion. As the days passed, the two girls grew weaker and weaker.
My mother wanted to help them. But when she tried to bring them some food, the mother-in-law punished the girls further, telling them, “You are making me feel ashamed in front of people.”
The woman was very proud of herself and she told people how “my brides are working all the day without having much food.”
After one month, Qurban’s wife died of starvation. But still the woman did not stop torturing the other daughter-in-law.
After five years, finally the mother-in-law died and the girl was able to get more food. Her life improved a little bit, but Hasan does not take care of her and she is also going to die.
There is lots of violence against brides by mothers-in-law, although people most often criticize the husbands.
By Alia, age 15