Six months ago my younger brother decided that he would no longer call me sister because I was not obeying him and because I did not do what he wanted. I said to myself, “Ok, I won’t call him brother either because he has never been nice to me.” He was trying to control me, so he said, “I will imagine that I have never had a sister.”
For a long time this continued and we did not say hello when we met. In the past, I would hug him and be good to him because I loved him. I wanted him to improve himself and go to school, but he saw my improvement plans as a negative thing. He disapproved of everything—my traveling, my education, my clothing, and my friends. So he disowned me.
But at least he left me alone until that all changed one day recently. It was breakfast time and the family was together watching TV and talking and joking. I whispered something, but my brother did not like it. He became mad and called me a “bad girl,” which is like being called a prostitute in Afghanistan. When he said that, I looked back at him and everyone else looked at the two of us.
He jumped up and started hitting me. I was surprised because for a long time all his anger at me had been verbal, but this time it got physical. I tried to defend myself, but he is strong. I remembered this because he had beaten me once before, a long time ago. Everyone else looked scared. I knew I had to defend myself on my own or be killed by his punching and kicking so I hit him with the egg pan. The rest of the family saw how bad it was getting and they came to defend me until he stopped hitting me.
I was shocked. I was home enjoying time with my family, and I was beaten. Why? Because I don’t stay home like other girls, cooking and serving men. I am out studying and working, and having my own life, which makes my brother jealous. He doesn’t like it when I take photos with my male friends or talk to them on the phone. He hates it if I communicate with them on social media and he implies that I am a bad girl because of those things.
If he were a good brother I would listen to his concerns and even orders that I didn’t like. But why should I accept violence? Why should I accept orders from a man who has done nothing for me but always says bad things about me and make me sad and wants me to fail in reaching my dreams.
I went to another room and locked the door. But he followed me and started the fight again until the rest of my family came to stop it. They were very angry with me but no one beat my brother who started the fight. He left and went out to have fun.
The mental pain is as bad as the physical pain. I couldn’t even cry. I knew I needed to be strong even though I just wanted to throw myself out the second floor window and say goodbye to life with violence. I remembered my sister on the other side of the door who wanted to hug me and I remembered my dreams for a peaceful and just Afghanistan where children and women have the same rights as every man—as human beings, not as second class citizens.
I wanted to kill myself. But I didn’t because I know that I need to help other women, girls, and children by sharing my story.
I am an advocate for children’s rights and women’s rights, but now even I am beaten at home and so are my younger brother and sister. As I write this piece I am crying, but also looking for a way to stop this violence and save all of our lives. People like my brother should be corrected and punished. I will try my best not to give up so I can fight against this violence and make certain the next generation of women and children have a life free of violence.
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kenny Holsto
Because this is the worst day of your life, the rest will be better. Hold on to that. And know that your words are important. Please continue being strong and working for peace and equality. My heart is with you.
Your story makes me angry and makes my heart hurt. Your strength is incredible given what you’ve been through and I applaud your willingness to write all of this down so that other women in similar situations will be encouraged to stay strong and not give up too. I pray that you will be safer from now on and that you will find a peaceful place to stay and live. Thank you so much for telling your story. Love and all best wishes, Nancy
Thank you for writing this essay and sharing your struggles with us. I totally understand what you are talking about and I can imagine how hard it could be for you living silent and despite of all respecting your family.
I think that the problem is that Afghan women and girls are so helpless at home. We have to tolerate and accept the situation, because we can not leave, because we don’t know how to fight back and because in most cases we think that it is our life and we must accept it. We take all the burden in our shoulders because we are women!
I don’t agree with this wrong culture any more. If my family is a good family, I always welcome them, if they are not good and they are bad people, I say that, we both are born from one mother and father but it doesn’t mean that I follow you, accept you, and obey your wrong and rotten thoughts!
I understood from your writings that you have come half of the way in your life,and achieved your goals and your a successful girl or woman. Try to build strong walls in front of your desires and dreams and don’t allow him to push you down. You are not alone in this journey!
Sending you love!
Dear Sister, this (sadly unintelligent) little brother of yours must have loved you quita a bit (and probably still does, as otherwise he wouldn’t have a need for such strong reactions concerning you). And now he is jealous that he doesn’t have you for himself anymore, as you are an independant person, and your time for him is limited. He is still stuck in the conventions of the male dominated society that surrounds you both. Of course he is, because it is all to his advantage so far. And sadly enough he seems to think it is ok to treat another human being like that. I am sure his soul is hurting treating you like that, but he hardens his heart as most people do when they hurt others.
There is a saying, “only the weak hurt others”, (the strong have no need to do so, as they are strong enough to let other people be themselves without feeling treatened by this).
How to open his heart again? Sometimes doing things together helps bringing people together again, but you might not have much chances of this in your segregated society. Listening to music together, washing dishes, watching television, taking photos together etc.
Try to have an image of him and of thinking of him in your head of how he used to be when everything was still ok, instead of thinking endlessly of how bad it is now. This can help you invoke better reactions in him. Instead of expecting the worst, expect something nice from him?
What about your sisters, and the other brother, your mother and father? I think you need to make them see that his behaviour is unworthy of a human being and has no place in a harmonious family life. They have to help you next time he tries to boss you around. Or are they also not more mature than he is? Then I don’t know what to say. But I don’t believe it, because from where did you get your brains and your independent thinking capacity if not from your parents?
I have never been in Afghanistan unfortunately, but I always have had a special love for this country, as my father lived and worked there for a while before I was born.
A big hug, never give up! Sebadayinee
Sorry, I don’t know from were the first line of my comment came from. I didn’t write it, this much I know.
Really thank you for your sharing of the story and I really think your promotion of women-right should be supported! Living in a country with long history of patriarchy and restriction on women’s education will certainly brought you so many hardship when achieving these progress you had, I really admire you for both your accomplishment and experience. Different from other women, you choose to stand up for your right instead of just conforming to these incorrect social norm. And I also believes that your story will promote and help other women to stand up for themselves, and achieves for wished for a transition in gender relationship.