I knew how lucky I was to have other options, to be able to make the choice to leave a war without being a refugee. I had been given a Special Immigrant Visa for the U.S. and left Afghanistan in 2016, still haunted by guilt. I studied at college in Virginia. I wanted to pursue a career in education that would one day help me make more substantial changes in Afghanistan. I went on to study at Georgetown and Columbia universities and continued to tell myself that all of this was in aid of my life’s mission to work for, and with, Afghan women. But who knows when I will be able to return to Herat or Kabul now?
“Lingui, The Sacred Bonds,” by Chadian director-writer Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, is his first film with female leads. It’s a venture he takes to broach abortion, a subject that carries stigma and shame familiar to American audiences after the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade.
When men feel superior to women, empowered by culture and the law, or the lack thereof, violence and bloodshed follow. By the time you finish reading this piece — and every 11 minutes thereafter — a woman will have been killed by someone she knew, even trusted.
Young girls in Pakistan often grow up being told they can do certain things after marriage, and daughters in South Asia are often referred to as guests in their parents’ house until their marriage, waiting to be given away to their husbands at the right time.
Afghan women are strong, bright and resourceful, and even in the toughest situations we are able to take comfort from the beauty God bestows upon us. In Khas Kunar the Taliban could not stop me from hearing the flow of the local river, swollen by recent heavy rain. Nor could they tarnish the taste of the local cornbread and yogurt. But in all corners of Afghanistan it is getting harder for women in particular to hold on to any hope.
The future husband rapes the young woman shortly after having kidnapped her (it is estimated that there are 2,000 rapes preceding marriage a year), thus condemning her as his wife, for returning to her family after that would be a deep mark of shame.
Still today, a majority of the public believes that women were handed their rights on a silver platter. However, according to the rectified version of history, it was in the late 19th century that Muslim women of the Ottoman Empire first started to demand their rights.