Afghanistan on Edge
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|Zakia Ghiyasee||June 13th 2012|
Gulsika was 13-years-old when she was forced into an arranged marriage. The first 10 days or so, she says, were pleasant -- but then the abuse started. Today, seven years later, she lives in a safe house in Kabul, recovering from gunshot wounds. Her husband is in prison awaiting trial for allegedly shooting her in May at their home in the northern province of Takhar.
Gulsika, a native of Kandahar who is now 20, described the trauma she experienced after her husband shot her, apparently because she could not have children with him. "My intestines were out of my belly, lying on the ground," she said. "My mother-in-law put them back and tied my belly with a piece of cloth. She was telling me 'don't cry.' I couldn't breathe. It was difficult to push the air down my throat."
Gulsika's ordeal, which was brought to RFE/RL's attention by Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission, came months after another domestic abuse case that made headlines around the world in which a 15-year-ol d Afghan newlywed was allegedly tortured by her husband and in-laws and kept in a basement for several months.The United Nations Development Fund for Women says nearly 90 percent of Afghan women suffer from some form of domestic abuse, making the country one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman. According to Gulsika, her troubles began when she was pressured by her family into marrying the brother-in-law of her sister. When she failed to conceive a child, both her husband and mother-in-law began mistreating her.
In order to try to address the problem, Gulsika claims her brother gave her money to go to a doctor, who, after examining her, suggested the husband -- and not her -- was the one unable to have children. "The doctors performed tests and an ultrasound tests on me," she said. "They told me there was nothing wrong with me. I told my mother-in-law: 'There is nothing wrong with me. Now do something about your son.'"
Gulsika said the situation got worse when her husband started having an affair with one of his relatives. After the shooting, neighbors helped bring Gulsika to the hospital, where doctors managed to save her life. She has mostly recovered from her injuries, but still has trouble walking. Her husband is in prison awaiting trial and Gulsika has said she hopes he receives a long prison term. "They can kill me, but I would not go back to him," she said. "They never treated me well. They used to beat me and torture me. I have suffered a lot. I hope I will not be compelled. I really do not want to marry again.”
Zakia Ghiyasee writes for Radio Free Europe, from where this article is adapted.