I write this for the 18-year-old girl who died after she was raped in the Paghman District of Kabul in August by a gang of seven men.

These crimes happening in my country will continue to happen, though they are very painful and a great hardship for Afghan women and their families. But there is hope. There is hope because by writing about such crimes, I can help battle against them. When people demonstrate and raise their voices to the government and to the world the way so many groups raised their voices in the last few months about the gang rape of the four women returning home with their families late at night from a wedding, they show that people want the government to stop these crimes.

When hundreds of people—both men and women—write on their social networking pages and tell news reporters how we don’t want these crimes anymore, then there is hope because it shows the urgency and perception of these crimes among our people is sky high. We have had crimes like Paghman in the past, but people either didn’t have as much courage as they have today, or they simply lacked the opportunity to convey their opinions to others and to the government and so they had to tolerate their distress.

My hope is that society’s ideas are changing day-by-day as women learn their rights and men see they too want freedoms for women.

In August one of the four victims was an 18-year-old girl. She was brutally raped many times and after some days in Estiqlal hospital she died. No one knows her name because it was not disclosed. According to all of the media, the thing she repeated after being raped was:

“Please be silent.
Please be silent.
Don’t talk about this.
My honor will go.”

Now, she is silenced forever by a savage society in which some men are totally brutal and wild. In the case of rapes, the fathers typically remain silent, preferring to hide the events to save the family’s name and honor. Mothers curse their daughters. Brothers stay silent against the scarred bodies of their sisters. All are afraid of dishonor. In our male society, they often believe honor is demonstrated by killing the victim, not the rapist.

I am thankful for the men in my society who, now, finally, describe themselves as mavericks, as courageous leaders and as challengers of bad tradition. They show the world how much value Afghan women have.

By Arifa H.