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The Killid Group
For disabled women, double discriminationWritten by Sohaila Wedaa Khamosh
Saturday, 10 December 2011 10:23
Lateefa is 32 years old. She lives with her three children in her father's house on top of Guzargah mountain, Kabul. Her husband threw her out of their home four years ago. She has an artificial leg. Her own was shattered by a landmine when she was out collecting dry bushes for fuel in the Zanborak mountain in the last days of the Mujahedin regime (1992-96). A few months later she fell off the roof of her home, and the leg had to be amputated above the knee.
Life became even harder under the Taleban regime. One day when she was 14 years old she was sent to buy wool for the family to spin from Kabul Chowk. She was forced off the public Mili bus by a number of people from her neighbourhood, and taken to the police station. She wasforced to get married to a married man who lived on her street in Guzargah.
Lateefa said: "I did not want to get down from the bus, but one of them dragged me out. I struggled to get away and in the process my artificial leg came off. They cruelly threw it away, and threw me into a car. Then they married me to a person I did not know. He lived in our lane. Afterwards the relative on both sides met and my husband's eldest daughter was engaged to my brother under Bad (a traditional custom that transforms a family's dishonour, in this case Lateefa's forced marriage, into ties of kinship).
Used and abused
Lateefa's married life was hell. Her husband had a wife and three children. The family harassed her. Whenever her husband got angry he would pull off her artificial leg, and beat her. Her body, she said, has scars from those beatings.
"Everything was bearable until he refused to permit the marriage of his daughter to my brother which had been decided in an assembly," she added. Late on a cold winter night he threw Lateefa out of the house with their three daughters. He said that he would not give his "two-legged daughter" in exchange for a one-legged wife, she recalled.
Lateefa's mother was stoical about her daughter's fate. Her daughter and her children were not a burden on the family, she said. Neither her husband nor she would allow Lateefa to go to her husband's house. Instead "his daughter belongs to my son", the mother said. Lateefa's husband went back on his word, she implied.
Scarred by disability
Life is harder for a disabled woman, said Arefa from Takhar province. They are always abused and insulted, she added. She said it was worse than the physical pain she suffered when a rocket smashed into their house during the civil war and blew away her leg. "Many people have come to our door seeking a bride, and have left when they saw I was disabled," she said bitterly.
Sayera has a disabled leg. Her father, a brother and sister were also left disabled by a rocket that landed on their house during the civil war. "People insult us because we are lame. I can bear it but when they call my father names I get very angry," she said.