Upon looking through an old box of National Geographics I found a magazine with an article about the day to day lives of Afghan women. It really intrigued me and made me feel angry.
Life is tough for women from Afghanistan. It’s a harsh reality. They suffer all different types of abuse, mainly domestic, and many of them are denied an education. Here are the stories of three, they are all true, but put into my words.
BURN YOURSELF by Gracie Chick
A woman came to me in a dream, she symbolised the women of Afghanistan. “Burn yourself!” she told me, “It is the only way to escape.” She was wrong. I never escaped.
Slowly, my hand shaking, I lifted the tin above my head. I breathed the scent of fumes, they clogged my nose and made me splutter. Closing my eyes, I poured. The thick, oily liquid ran down my face, it matted my hair. Slickly, it dribbled down my neck, cold and sticky. I struck the match, holding it as far away from me as possible. Carefully, I brought it closer. I could feel the heat on my petrol coated skin.
I stared into the mirror at the new me, the deformed me. I blinked back tears, but it was no use, I watched them trickle down the red, bumpy surface that was now my face.
Wrapping my shawl tightly around me, I stepped outside. The other kids laughed when they saw me. “You’re ugly! Get out of here freak!” They cried. I was 11 years old. I had no hope. I was stupid. I regret my mistake.
FOUR YEARS A PRISONER by Gracie Chick
“No! Please!” I cry out, but the man ignores me. He slams the heavy metal door shut and locks it. I am left alone in the darkness. The darkness not only of my prison cell, but of my heart.
I am just a 22 year old woman, I could have a life ahead of me. Already I have wasted 4 years in this damp, forlorn cell.
At the age of twelve I was forced, by my own family, to marry a paralyzed man of around 70 years old. I was expected to carry him, but how could I? I was too young, too weak. He was heavy. So I was mercilessly beaten by his brothers fo my ‘crime’.
One day I decided to be strong. I asked for a divorce. The answer was obvious, I’ve been in jail ever since.
A HOPE by Gracie Chick
My name is Sahera Shahif. I am the first woman to enter the Afghan parliament. I am the hope for Afghan girl’s futures. I am the hope for their freedom.
I stood up to my Father as a teenager, locking myself in a cupboard until he allowed me to attend school. I started a radio station as a young adult, teaching other women about health and hygiene.
I volunteered at a university. I threw off my Burqa. My male students were shocked. I decided to reeducate them.
My daughter is training to be a lawyer so she can help more women in Afghanistan have justice. She is translating children’s books into Pashtu so they will be able to read and learn more. She is writing her own novel. She is only fifteen.
I am a girl of almost thirteen years old, it would have taken just one slight change of circumstance for me to have been Afghan. I would be in the same situation as these girls and women. What path would I choose? Suicide? Fight for my rights? I don’t know.
Here’s what Amnesty International have to say on the matter, what do you think?
You can be jailed for the ‘moral crime’ of fleeing your abusive husband. Growing up, you might well have been denied an education, banned from working and moving freely, and seen as inferior to your husband, son or brother.
Now, you can do many of those things in theory, but the violence and oppression remain. Speak up for equality and you put your life in danger. Welcome to life as a woman in Afghanistan, where change has come but your hard-won rights are in danger of slipping away.