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This evening I was returning home from a tough day of struggle. A morning that started hearing about the uncertain future of the country's National Human Rights Commission, one of the few semi-government institutions that support us activists and civil society, continued with a review of one of the projects I am supporting in Kunduz and Hirat provinces in which we are tracking the cases of violence against women, and just reviewing 45 cases reported in three weeks in one province, horrified me. There are hundreds of other cases that never get registered nor those silent victims have ever the opportunity to complain to a women's affairs office in their province. The afternoon was spent in another struggle of trying to find a DNA testing facility for a woman whose husband has accused her that their second child, is not his. He is powerful and can easily prove that, and our legal system that is inherently a woman's enemy, wont think twice before convicting her guilty, in which her whole life will be destroyed. Some even say that she would be stoned to death if the husband can prove that the child isnt his child.
So was very tired, angry and thirsty, as we are fasting this month. A fasting that hardly means anything more than just not eating or not drinking. Allah knows if this kind of fasting will ever have any rewards, but we all continue with the pretense at least. As the car entered into our neighborhood, and was getting near my home, I noticed a group of around 4-5 guys surrounding a little young girl and she was crying. As I got closer, I saw that the girl is holding the pieces of bread that she is taking home and these guys who might be around 18-22 years are teasing her, one trying to pull her hair, another pulling the bread, another pulling her hands and she was crying and holding the bread onto her chest. I cant remember how i jumped out of the car, and when the car stopped and in matter of seconds I was there shouting and yelling on these guys who distanced from her as they saw me screaming on them. I dont remember what I was telling them but tried to console the little girl, she might have been around 10 years of age and wiped her tears.
My screams and yelling drew attention and I saw the guards of the neighborhood and some men who came to me asking whether the guys were teasing me. But I told them if you have a little bit of gut in you and if you have a daughter and cant see her abused by such kind of guys, then dont let these guys escape and just get away with such a crime. I am not a violent person at all, I fight for non violence and human rights of individuals and women but I dont know what made me urge these men to not let the young guys teasing the little girl to just go away as nothing had happened. In a matter of seconds, I noticed the guards and the men beating the hell of the 5 guys and the the guards took them away , I guess to the police or maybe to just take them out of the neighborhood. I asked the little girl who was trembling of fear where was her home and she kept requesting that please dont let my father know what happened here because he will beat me alot. I took her near to her apartment and didnt go with her so that the family dont even notice anything strange. She entered her house, still holding the pieces of bread on her chest.
The time had come for breaking the fast but the fearful face of this young little girl became another nightmare to me and kept thinking about her the whole evening. What if they had touched her somewhere, what if they could take her away because it was evening and not alot of people would notice, what if they had raped her, what if I didnt notice it, what if...what if...the questions kept torturing me as I was looking at the young girls in my own family. How will we protect them from these wolves right outside homes...sometimes these little girls are not even safe inside home. How long will this situation continue? What happened to the guys, I am sure they are roaming free around and they would be teasing another girl at the next available opportunity...how many of these guys are around..countless.
It's all dark around as I see the neighborhood outside my window. Hearing the roar of the men chit chatting with each other with no fear....seeing some old men drinking tea right outside their apartments after the Iftar ( breaking fast) but am thinking why cant we have a similarly safe and enabling environment for our girls and women, why cant we just sit outside our apartments and drink tea without even worrying that we are being stared at, or not even worrying that our husbands, fathers, brothers wont allow us to do so. But am still haunted by the thoughts of the little girl and the scene I witnessed this evening while returning home. Didnt tell anyone at home...my mom is always worried that I have turned into a rebel and this is the end of life for a girl in this society. Even if I had shared at home, my father would've become angrier and he would never allow the little girls to get out of home, because he still thinks to protect yourselves just stay away from wolves of the society and that means, stay home, stay inside.
There is no end or no break to our struggles. Outside and inside home, but always keep things to ourselves because in this society you are not allowed to share how you feel or what happens inside your home, if you do, you are no more a socially acceptable woman and the attitudes will never give you the courage to do so. So some of us just keep struggling and fighting until we can and when we cant anymore, we just vanish into darkness , who would notice...maybe no one.