Our tendency is discussing Afghanistan is to focus on the Taliban and warfare, rather than explore the dynamics of ordinary life in a nation which is governed by old men whose only thought is of themselves, and certainly lack any concern for daughters, wives or in-laws. Halima, age 20, was admitted to a hospital in Herat, a fairly refined city which contains numerous cultural centers. Halima tried to burn herself due to a life of hell as second wife to a man who had lost any interest in her and was content to spend hours deep into heroin which was supplied by his second wife. Life was hell for her, and finally, Halima concluded, “I thought it would be quick death.” She survived. She will return home to the same hell since no male elders would lift any hand to help a young woman. Dr. Aref Jalali, claims he has ten such cases each month in the hospital. Of the 67 cases he has handled, 33 died, 15 left, and the others were not heard from. Dr. Jalali believes many leave the hospital knowing they have an infection and hope it will result in a quick death. A heritage of forced marriages, young girls married off to old gents in exchange for an animal or drugs or to settle a debt result in thousands of women who live a life of hell.
After nine years of “liberation” Afghanistan is still controlled by elderly men who regard women as their servants. There are sporadic attempts at supporting women rights, but they eventually can not stand up against the force of tradition and men who simply do not agree to any concept entailing women rights. Such, are the fruits of “liberation.”