“My husband is in the Taliban, he is looking for me everywhere.” – Fahima*, beauty salon owner and survivor of forced child marriage.
Fahima, now 36 years old has reason to still fear the husband she managed to escape following the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. At just 11 years old, Fahima was sold by her uncle to a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan decades older than her. The relationship was physically and sexually violent and eventually, Fahima gave birth to her first child at 14 years old.
She eventually managed to escape the abusive relationship at 20 years old with three children, fleeing to Kabul with no money or connections. There, Fahima thrived after training in make-up artistry and opening her own beauty salon.
The salon was her sanctuary, not only providing her with the financial means to support her family, but also providing a space for community and a support network of women.
Now, Fahima’s future is bleak. As the Taliban regain power in Afghanistan, Fahima fears her husband will find her and kill her. Fahima’s business has been shuttered and vandalized, and everything she worked for has abruptly halted.
Like so many others, Fahima has remained in hiding with her children over the past month surviving off her cash savings while she plans how to flee the country.
Fahima told iNews:
I’m worried my husband is roaming the streets freely looking for me. If he finds me he will kill me because of the dishonour and disgrace issue, because I was able to escape.
By the time I stood on my own feet I was able to take care of things independently, autonomously and financially,” she said.
I am very proud to provide my kids with an education and that was enough for me, to raise them.
After the Taliban took over again, my hopes and wishes shattered to a thousand pieces,” she said. “Women’s freedom have been snatched away from them.
Physical violence (against women) is extremely high. I used to have a lot of customers and I was able to provide them with a livelihood but all the hard-earned gains from the past 16 years have just disappeared from my very own eyes.
The Taliban can’t be trusted, I see no future for myself and no place in this society.
Freedom United is alarmed at the risk of violence facing women and other vulnerable groups in Afghanistan. Take action for survivors like Fahima, join the campaign against forced marriage today.
*Not her real name.