Karima, 27, lives in Mazar-e-Sharif. She was fifteen when she was married.
Mazar-e-Sharif — Because we lived far out in the district, there was no school for girls and because of this I am uneducated. Our family economic situation was bad and my father had borrowed some money from one of his friends to pay the rent and buy some things. At first, his friend said he could wait until he found a job to pay back the money. But then I don’t know what happened—some men came and asked for the money. My father cried a lot, and told him, “I don’t have money. I have not found a job.” The man said he would file a complaint with police and they would arrest my father and put him in jail.
My father thought if the police arrested him, there would be no one to take care of his family so he said to his friend, “I have a daughter. I will give you my daughter for your son.” The man was happy and agreed. The next week they did my marriage and sent me to my mother-in-law’s house.
When I went to my husband’s house my problems started with my mother-in-law. She beat me every day and she would say to me, “You are not beautiful. I only have one son and I will get him a beautiful wife.” One day after hitting me she told me to go back to my mother’s house. I was pregnant and I stayed in my mother’s house for eight months. My husband never came to ask about my health, but after eight months my father said that I must go to my husband’s house to give birth to the baby.
I went to my husband’s house, but my mother-in-law would not let me enter the house, 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.” After two weeks I gave birth to my son. When he was eight weeks, they sent me to live in an old kitchen room without doors or windows.
Because of my son I accepted the room happily. Once a month my husband visited us. Two years passed like this and I became pregnant. My second baby was also a son. But then my husband came and told me I must return to my parents’ house. I said I was fine but he forced me and then my mother-in-law took my elder son from me. She said the trip to my parents was long and he might become sick on the way. I went to my mother’s house and then my husband went back his house.
After ten days he brought us a divorce letter. All he said was, “I don’t want to continue my life with you.” I was crying and asked him to bring my elder son but he said, “He is my son. You should forget him.”
My brother spoke to my husband and asked him not to divorce me or take my son. “He is only two years old. You can still marry again,” my brother said. I told my husband, “You should act according to the court’s rules and divorce me in the court.” So we went to the court. When the lawyer asked him why he wanted the divorce he said, “She is a good woman, but I don’t like her and I want to divorce her.”
It has been nine years and I have not seen or heard about my elder son. My second son is seven years old and he goes to school. My husband never asked about his second son.
My life is difficult. I live with my brothers. My father died. My relatives all think that I was a bad woman because my husband divorced me. I cannot participate in wedding parties because everyone says terrible things about me. I worry a lot about my children—one of them has a mother and no father. The other one has a father and no mother.
I will never forgive my mother-in-law. This is violence against women, by women.
By Karima as told to Humaira