From the New York Times comes a gut-punching article about the continuing “honor killings” of young women in Afghanistan:
An 18-year-old runaway named Amina agreed two weeks ago to leave the women’s shelter in which she had taken refuge in northern Afghanistan and go home with her brother and her uncle. … Amina had run away to avoid marrying a man her family had forcibly betrothed her to, and agreed to return only after her family had signed guarantees that she would not be harmed. For good measure, her father and brother repeated their vows on video camera at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in Baghlan Province, and she left with them.
She never reached home. Hours after she got into her family’s car, a gang of gunmen dragged her out of the vehicle and shot her to death, her brother and uncle later claimed. Everyone else was unharmed. …
[T]he young woman’s brother said that nine masked men had stopped the car, dragged his sister away and shot her to death. Her family did not seem concerned enough to report the crime.
Even in Afghanistan, women are not supposed to be bought and sold and traded like cattle. There are laws aiming to prevent it. But tribal and religious customs die hard, and the Times points out that many Afghan judges have only the sketchiest idea of what the country’s law books actually say.
And so, this continues, without much law-enforcement effort to protect women from feudal barbarism and modern-day slavery:
[A] majority of judges do not have actual law degrees, and a significant percentage have not even finished high school — a situation that continues to exist, despite $904 million in “rule of law” funding from the United States alone between 2002 and 2010, much of it earmarked to improve the judiciary.
Under customary practices widely prevalent here, fathers have absolute power over their daughters until they marry, when such power passes to their husbands. They can marry girls off at birth, or at any age, with or without their permission, often making them bartered goods to solve family debts.
This video, also via the Times, presents the story of an Afghan husband and wife being hunted for death after they eloped. Zakia’s parents wouldn’t let their daughter marry Mohammed because she was raised a Sunni and he is a Shia. The couple is also from different tribes. Now Zakia and Mohammed are on the run from the bride’s family as well as from the government.
I wanted to wish them Godspeed, but I guess I’ll just say “Good luck” instead.