Today we bring you the eleventh in our Oral Stories series from women in Afghanistan who were denied the opportunity to learn to read or write. For this section, AWWP interviewers across Afghanistan asked women to talk about the impact of gender discrimination in their lives. The interviews published here were recorded and transcribed, translated, and edited in English for clarity.
In this section you will hear from Asma Gul, a 35-year-old mother in Kabul, who describes the impact of treating sons and daughters so differently. In My Father Said He Loved My Brothers More Than Me she says: “I broke off relations with my family, especially with my brothers. When parents create discrimination among their children, the children will hate each other. This is a kind of parental violence.”
From Herat, Fatimah explains in Supporting Five Daughters Becomes a Woman’s Responsibility how her husband abandoned her because he didn’t want girls. “When I asked him to work, he said: ‘I don’t want to spend my life on five daughters. You gave birth to them so you are responsible for feeding them.’ ”
In Women Against Women: A Demonic Mother-in-Law, 27-year-old Karima in Mazar-e-Sharif tells our interviewer how her father traded her to a man to pay off a debt and then her new mother-in-law kicked her out and sent her back to her parents because she was not pretty enough, and then her parents sent her back again because she was pregnant. “I went to my husband’s house, but my mother-in-law would not let me enter, so that night I slept in the yard. In the morning the elders of the family came and said to my mother-in- law, ‘She is pregnant. You should let her give birth to her baby and then you can decide.’”
In My Father Always Said “Just Learn to Cook,” listen to Bibi Gul, at age 50, still lamenting the lack of education her family inflicted on her. “My father told me education is not important for girls. I heard his words, but in my heart I always thought about going to school. It is still like a dream in my heart today. That was the worst violence my own parents did with me. I am like a blind person.”
Finally, in Married at Twelve, Adelah says she will never forgive her father: “I don’t remember a single good day or a good memory from my life. Each year I gave birth to a baby. Because of that I became crazy. I did not know what I should do with all of these children.”
Editor in chief, AWWP
Click on the links below to read the series.
- Married at Twelve, a Fifty-Year-Old Mother Cannot Forgive, by Adela as told to Leeda
- My Father Said He Loved My Brothers More than Me, by Asma Gul as told to Manizha
- My Father Always Said, “Just Learn to Cook” by Bibi Gul as told to Khadija
- Supporting Five Daughters Becomes a Woman’s Responsibility, by Fatimah as told to Karima
- Women Against Women: A Demonic Mother-in-Law, by Karima as told to Humaira