Facing Death, Afghan Girl Runs to U.S. Military : NPR
In a remote part of Afghanistan early last year, a girl was sentenced to death. Her crime was possession of a cell phone. Her executioners were to be her brothers. They suspected her of talking on the phone with a boy. The girl, in her late teens, had dishonored the family, her brothers said.
“My older brother took the cell phone from me and beat me very badly. It was dinnertime. They told me that they would execute me after dinner. They said to me this would be my last meal,” says “Lina,” a pseudonym.
The question of how to protect the rights of Afghan women after U.S. troops leave the country has become a key question. But this task hasn’t been easy even with a huge American troop presence in Afghanistan.
Lina’s story illustrates the point: When she came to an American military base pleading for help, U.S. officials had to figure out how to save her life without enraging the local community.
“I was terrified to think of running away from home, but suddenly a voice from inside told me to flee before my brothers killed me. Maybe the devil made me do it,” says Lina. “I took one of their cloaks and wrapped it around me to look like a man. Then I slipped out of the house and started walking to the foreigner’s base nearby.”
EnlargeJoel Saget/AFP/Getty Images
Afghan women pass U.S. soldiers near Bagram Air Base outside Kabul in 2010. Conditions for Afghan women have improved over the past decade, but they still face many restrictions.
So-called honor killings are common in Afghanistan, along with other gruesome punishments for women suspected of contact with men outside their family. It’s considered a dishonor even when a woman is the victim of sexual assault. Hundreds of women are in Afghan prisons for “moral crimes” such as being the victims of rape.
Also see In Memory of Nadia Anjuman.