Afghanistan has been labelled some of the harmful locations on the planet to be a girl. One examine advised 87% of girls within the nation expertise some type of home violence. Sodaba Haidare visited one place within the capital Kabul that provides hope to ladies escaping abuse.
Aryan’s shift within the kitchen has come to an finish. She removes her apron and hat. Glimpses of her persona are revealed – she’s carrying a vibrant tunic over her black denims, and he or she he has a mole precisely between her eyebrows – as if somebody planted it within the excellent place.
She locations a glass of recent lemon juice on the desk sits down throughout from me. Aryan is strikingly lovely and strikes with confidence. But it is onerous to consider we’re the identical age. She is 24 however has the look of a a lot older lady. It is due to the years of abuse she endured by the hands of her violent husband.
She was solely 16 when her dad and mom organized her marriage to a person she’d by no means met. Quickly after the marriage, her husband and mother-in-law began beating her. She caught it out, hoping issues would get higher with time. However they received worse.
By the point she realised she was in an abusive relationship, she already had three youngsters.
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Sooner or later, when Aryan’s husband left for work, she examined the recent bruises he’d left on her face, then packed her luggage and took her youngsters to the police station.
Ladies who are suffering home abuse are normally turned away by Afghan police or persuaded to return to their husbands for his or her household’s honour. However Aryan thought her accidents would make the police take her severely. And so they did.
She was despatched to a ladies’s shelter, the place she and her youngsters lived ever since, with different ladies who’ve additionally escaped home violence. She usually goals of a future the place she has her personal place, the place she will dwell with out the worry of her ex-husband coming close to her or her youngsters.
The trail to this dream changing into actuality lies within the coronary heart of Kabul. And it begins in a historically embellished Afghan restaurant referred to as Bost.
Hope is on the coronary heart of its mission. The place is run by survivors of home violence and right here, ladies are celebrated as robust, impartial human beings, not simply victims. Bost is a base for eight ladies, of all ages. Working empowers them to put in writing a brand new chapter of their lives.
It is a lengthy and sometimes troublesome course of. Nonetheless, it helps that each nook of this restaurant pays homage to highly effective ladies. The place screams feminine empowerment.
Each wall is hung with footage of girls with distinctive tales.
There may be Queen Soraya, the spouse of King Amanullah, who wearing European trend and believed ladies ought to shed the veil, and man ought to solely have one spouse. She was additionally the minister of training, who opened the nation’s first faculty for ladies within the 1920s.
Then there may be the present first woman, Rula Ghani, a Christian-born Lebanese lady, who stunned Afghans by talking out about ladies’s rights.
There are additionally lesser-known faces, Afghan ladies who’ve been killed merely for doing their jobs. Lt Islam Bibi, for instance – a younger police officer who suffered loss of life threats from her personal brother and was then shot down by unknown gunmen on her technique to work. Their tales will not be forgotten.
One other wall pays homage to Afghanistan itself, with pictures of three totally different ladies in vibrant, conventional garments. They symbolise every area of this fractured nation.
There is a small stage, embellished with a hand-crafted Afghan rug. Right here feminine performers sit and play the long-necked string instrument referred to as the Tambur – and even the guitar or violin. It is an uncommon sight in Afghanistan’s conservative society, the place many consider music needs to be forbidden – by no means thoughts performed by ladies.
Now a divorcee, Aryan has adored the three months that she’s spent right here. It has modified her.
She is now not the insecure and scared lady she as soon as was, who needed to increase her arms in self-defence, who would cower on the slightest aggressive phrase. However her husband has left her with a long-lasting hatred of males. She thinks all males are abusive – however little by little that is altering too.
Right here, day-after-day she sees males come to the restaurant with their households – males who’re variety and caring. And she or he sees one thing that she by no means skilled. Love.