This story is written for my relative Nilab, an unlucky girl who was born to a family that already had six daughters at home.
Nilab’s parents didn’t want her and sent her to live with her grandparents and aunts. She grew up like a stepchild in their home. She was intelligent, but she attended school only until fourth grade because her aunts had not studied and they were jealous.
Nilab always felt like an outsider in the house. She wasn’t allowed to speak her mind or make decisions. When she was thirteen, the family married her to a man who was already married and had three children.
At the wedding party, Nilab was happy because she thought this was just like childhood play. Sometimes she watched the neighborhood kids having mock wedding parties for two dolls or for a little boy and girl and after an hour everything returned to normal. She didn’t know what it meant to be someone’s life-partner or what kind of relations she would have with her husband.
When the wedding party ended she was taken to her in-laws’ home and from the first day of her marriage, her husband and her in-laws wanted her to become a prostitute. On the second day of her marriage, Nilab’s husband came home with a big man. They stood in the yard, talking. She heard the man’s voice and she was scared. Both men came inside the house. They wanted to rape her.
After some days, Nilab planned her escape from her in-laws’ house. Her grandmother’s home was far away but after many difficulties, Nilab returned to her grandmother. Then, because of bad traditions, her grandparents forced her to return to her in-laws’ home.
How unjust is this situation for a child who didn’t know what difficulties lay ahead on the path of life, who didn’t know how to face the challenges?
For her, it was a game of faith, which brought the only disaster.
Let’s stand and struggle against such injustice and advocate for Nilab!
Raise your voice
Not because of her
Not because she is woman
But because she is human
Defend her rights
Not because she suffered
Not because she is violated
Just because she is still a child
Support her just for humanity
Protect her just for kindness
Help her because she is a victim of bad customs
She is a victim of forced marriage
This post was written by Rabia and originally appeared on the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. Republished with permission.
The Afghan Women’s Writing Project was founded in 2009 in defense of the human right to voice one’s story. Poems & essays by Afghan women are published online at awwproject.org.
Image Source: Stephanie Sinclair