STANDING UP FOR AFGHAN WOMEN: The Afghan Women's Survival Fund
Posted on: Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Afghan women have been denied their human rights for decades—the right to education, to work, to health care, to political participation. More than 87 percent of Afghan women cannot read or write. Pervasive violence against women is now considered a “silent epidemic” with roots in the low status of women and fueled by ongoing warfare and political upheaval.
Following are stories of brutality ... and survival. Read how The Afghan Women’s Survival Fund and MADRE member support are saving women’s lives.
Shabana’s StoryIn May 2009, a 17-year-old girl named Shabana turned up at Women for Afghan Women’s shelter in Kabul, which is supported by MADRE’s Afghan Women’s Survival Fund. She had narrowly escaped being killed by her husband.
Shabana’s father died when she was young, leaving her vulnerable to abuse. Two years ago, she was walking home from school when she was kidnapped by a young man from her village. He beat her and forced her into marriage. He kept her a prisoner and abused her repeatedly for the next seven months. One night, he choked her until she blacked out and almost died. She fled the next day.
Her family, including her mother and uncle, did nothing to intervene. To them, the kidnapping was a just settlement of a long-standing property dispute. The “property” was Shabana’s sister-in-law, who had escaped from an abusive arranged marriage to the kidnapper’s cousin over 20 years ago.
When Shabana first arrived at the MADRE-supported safe shelter, she had nothing: no job, no access to school, no money, and no family support. Despite this, she was a strong and determined young woman. With the help of attorneys supported by The Afghan Women’s Survival Fund, she confronted her kidnapper in court and demanded a formal divorce.
Talking to reporters after the court hearing, just 26 days after her escape, Shabana said her head still ached from the beatings. “I am not a toy. I am human,” she said in a clear, strong voice. “I should not be treated like an animal.”
Her mother and uncle attended the hearing to urge her to return to her kidnapper, so that the stain on her family’s honor could be removed. She will always be on guard, fearing that her former husband and his family will retaliate. “I would rather die than go back,” said Shabana. “If I go back, he will kill me. I am sure of that.”
Shabana found a job as a caregiver at the Women for Afghan Women Children’s Support Center, where she earns enough money to live with dignity. She is taking accelerated classes to finish high school, and studying English and Computer Science to improve her job prospects when she graduates. The women at Women for Afghan Women have become her supportive, new family.
Shabana dreams of becoming a lawyer so she can help other Afghan women who face violence.
BY DONATING TO The Afghan Women’s Survival Fund TODAY, you are providing a way for women like Shabana to escape brutality and to rebuild their lives. Please be generous.
Wahida’s StoryAt 13, Wahida was sold into marriage to a 45-year-old man. He beat her and sold their two-month-old son to a family in Pakistan. After 16 years, she was accused of infidelity. Even with no evidence, she was sentenced to ten years in prison. Her three children went to prison with her.
Eventually, Wahida received a pardon with the help of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and is now living with her children at a safe shelter. MADRE and our sister organization, Women for Afghan Women (WAW), have opened the first home for children of incarcerated women, where they can be cared for and educated.
Zarbobo’s StoryZarbobo lived in a village outside of Kabul. For over 14 years, she was beaten and tortured by her husband. She had four children. One he threw into a fire pit and another he left to die from an illness. Then he killed his brother and married his sister-in-law. After that, Zarbobo was locked up in a tiny room with a piece of bread to eat each day. She escaped, barefoot and half naked, and found her way to our safe shelter.
Our Afghan sisters at WAW are doing all they can to keep Zarbobo safe, rescue her two remaining children and bring her husband to justice. At the shelter, Zarbobo wept because for the first time in her life, she had enough to eat.
When Bebe was 12, she was forced to marry a local Talib. Bebe was treated like a slave, regularly beaten and forced to sleep with animals. Bebe tried to escape at age 17 but was captured and brought back to her husband. Days later, in August 2009, Bebe’s husband cut off most of her nose and both of her ears while his brother held her down as punishment for running away.
Left for dead, she dragged herself to her uncle’s house, but he refused to help. Finally, she made it to her father, who took her to a hospital. After recuperating for several months, she found a safe haven at one of the MADRE-supported safe shelters.
Archives"Press Room" Home May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 July 2006 June 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 April 2005 March 2005 November 2004 October 2004 April 2004 March 2004 January 2004 December 2003 October 2003 September 2003 June 2003 April 2003 January 2003 September 2002 June 2002 January 2002 November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 January 2001
Kaitlyn Soligan, Media Coordinator
PHONE: +1 212 627 0444
MADRE Makes News
An Open Letter to the Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala (Common Dreams, May 15, 2013)
Mothers Fight Back (RH Reality Check, May 9, 2013)
How Not to End the War in Syria (Common Dreams, May 9, 2013)
Conditions in Jordan Syrian refugee camp are worse for women (Women's News Network, April 19, 2013)
US Army Vet and Iraqi Activist Find Common Ground (France24 International News, March 28, 2013)