My name is Shajan. I am 42 years old and I live in Nangarhar.
Nangahar– I have heard a lot about women’s rights in theory, but I never saw it being practiced. I am an illiterate woman and I am not able to become literate or educated because of the war going on in our country.
In Afghanistan, women are not only not allowed to obtain their basic rights, but they also become the victims in their families. For example, when my daughter got married she was not allowed to continue at school and go to university. She was beaten by her husband and was tortured. She suffered a lot in her young age. I still regret marrying her at the age of 16. She was young and innocent.
I wear the chadari—the blue burqa—and I am not allowed to go alone outside the house. Everyone is illiterate in our house. It is very challenging to study in Afghanistan. The war is going on in some provinces and Kabul recently has had very bad suicide bombings. Three suicide bombings took place within 24 hours. It was terrifying.
If there could be some work that women like me could do from home, projects designed for women, we would be able to earn some money to help our family and help the companies proceed with their work. I always had a dream of being a literate woman, a teacher, to be like a man without fear of doing what is right for me, to be bold, to help the poor and be an example for my children.
From the Islamic point of view, women’s rights are equal to the men’s, but I have spent my whole life regretting being an uneducated woman. I want the government to provide peace and a society where women can work calmly.
By Shajan, as told to Majabeen
Photo: Canada in Afghanistan/Zakarya Gulistani
Very moving. I feel for Shajan and her daughter and so many other women. Thank you for reminding me that I should not take my literacy for granted (and I do, all the time). I hope that through the AWWP that you and other women will be able to become literate and have a better life.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I feel helpless and distressed after reading what you described when formalism and bureaucracy are practiced, but not substantial efforts are made for women’s rights. I cannot imagine Afghan women actually getting married around 15 years old since I am now sixteen (which means I should get married right now). Don’t blame yourself too hard, because it’s difficult to not follow the social norms when every woman is getting married around this age in Afghanistan. I just hope your daughter and you can take care of yourself when you are in a challenging but irreversible situation. I wish one day the government and organizations will be more effective by providing resources and opportunities women are eager to get in order to help themselves or their households. I am sorry when I take education for granted but many people are still struggling with being illiterate. Hope you and your daughter can escape from the life you don’t want if it is possible in the future.