Flight to freedom: Afghan women share their stories

Flight to freedom: Afghan women share their stories

The struggle of some female refugees is not over when they reach to a safe country. We are documenting the stories of those who don’t have the ability to spread their word themselves – in a series on illiterate women from Afghanistan.

A young girl who had no dream but to study wished to continue her education and become a successful woman in the future. Although the situation adversely changed, she didn’t lose hope, faced terrible circumstances and continued to be strong against all odds. She states:

“I am happy that today I live as a free person, financially independent, and enjoy life to the fullest. Today, there is no one in my life who insults and humiliates me and calls me miserable. I would like to say to everyone who is going through difficulties, never lose hope and courage. Like that famous saying where there is a will, there is a way.”

When she was only ten, her brothers banned her from attending school; they burned all her books. Her dreams and hopes were shattered and destroyed before her eyes. With tears flowing out of her eyes, she was burning in flames that were burning her books.

A pain only Afghan girls experience

She felt highly vulnerable and desperate and couldn’t see for a saviour to rescue her. Unfortunately, having a father who suffered from chronic illness and a poor mother who could not stand up to her sons made her situation more miserable. She had to bury the pain inside her, the kind of pain and suffering that no girl except the Afghan girl has ever experienced and or will never experience.

The girl’s misfortune deteriorated after her father’s death. She was still a teenage girl whose family engaged her to a man without her consent. The dire economic conditions of her family forced her to prepare the dowry by herself. She started working with a shoe sewing machine she had at home. During the two years of engagement, she had to work harder in order to provide all the expenses of her dowry; Even her fingers were swollen and bleeding due to the intensity of her work.

Less than a human

During the engagement, she suffered insults and humiliations, even assaults by her fiancée. She got fed up with this state and finally decided to call off her engagement. She shared everything with her mother and said she could not live with a man who humiliated her many times. Her uncle, who was her guardian, answered: Daughter, you are lying; you should marry this man and move on with your life.

Finally, hoping her life would be better after the wedding, she agreed to this marriage. However, the burden of her problems massively increased; not only her husband but all her in-laws treated her as if she was less than a human.

She states:

When the breakfast was prepared, my in-laws offered the food to my sister-in-law and said you work in an office as manager, you should eat more, and someone who is not literate should eat less. I didn’t say a word but just cried.

Her husband knew how hard she worked to prepare her dowry but to annoy and hurt her, he threw her dishes and broke them before her eyes.

Insults and mobbing

 She expresses: “I used to get angry and scream. When I screamed, he beat me more violently. I took painkillers to cope with the pain so that I could sleep.”

Her husband’s family often insulted and mocked her because she was illiterate. As they used to say, an illiterate person is dumb and is not worth talking to her. Her mother-in-law used to tell her husband; the woman is useless, illiterate, and a burden; you should save yourself from this evil. She was utterly alone and helpless; she had no one to support her.

More problems and a sudden decision

Her life continued with all these difficulties, and in order to save herself from such a miserable situation, she decided to have a child. She went to the doctor, who told her she could never bear a child. After hearing the doctor’s words, she felt she was the most miserable woman in the world, which added to her problems.

Suddenly, her husband decided to go to Turkey; With this decision, she felt a ray of hope and deemed that it could be her liberation from the prison where she was tortured every day. They both left for Turkey.

After living in Turkey for two years, something better happened in her life which was the most significant turning point in her life: her pregnancy. Everyone was happy; everyone said a miracle had occurred in their lives. Slowly, she saw a shift in her life and felt a new chapter had begun, and her husband’s behaviour had changed. Finally, happiness had started knocking on her door.

Short happiness

This happiness did not last long; suddenly, a strong earthquake happened in Turkey, and they lost all their belongings. Her husband decided to enter Europe illegally. For this, he borrowed money from friends to go to Greece. While in Greece for four months, they tried to cross the border many times but didn’t succeed. One day, her husband told her that if we couldn’t cross the border this time, we would surrender to the Red Cross so that they would send us back to Afghanistan.

Upon knowing her husband’s decision, she imagined that all the sorrows in the world fell on her; Because she knew that if she returned to Afghanistan with this man, her life would become more unbearable than before. One day before the last attempt to cross Greece, she says: “I woke up at five in the morning, I wept. By then, I knew the gender of my child was a girl. I began to pray to my God, Oh God, don’t let this girl go back to Afghanistan; I want to go to Europe to have a better future; help me fly to a European country tomorrow with this ticket that I have, or else a train hit me on the way back from the airport that my daughter and I be killed and never experience the problems again.”

Plane to freedom

The next day, she entered the airport with false documents with the condition that neither knew the language nor was in good mental health, but this time luck was with her, and she managed to pass the airport and board the plane. It was the first-ever trip by plane. Everything was new and unfamiliar to her; she felt angels had come down to help him.

The plane flew, the mother and daughter were able to save themselves from the miseries of Afghanistan, and the mother felt that the child in her womb was dancing with joy. She started talking to her daughter: “My daughter, I will not let you get hurt; I will protect you until the last moment.” The plane landed at Frankfurt Airport. While getting off the plane, she passed out due to stress. When she opened her eyes, she saw several doctors, police and an interpreter standing over her.

They told her: “Everything is fine, you are in Germany and have no problems. Relax: The German government supports you.” After hearing these words, she sighed with relief and felt peaceful.

Alone – and pregnant

Being in the refugee center was very difficult for her, on the one hand, alone and, on the other hand, pregnant. In those days, the only thing that made her happy was that she had found her freedom and achieved her rights. No one could insult and humiliate her, and she had stepped into a country where she got support from the moment she entered. A country that never says women are miserable; women should be at home.

After a while of waiting, fortunately, her daughter was born in the hospital, a cute and beautiful girl.

With the help of social services, she rented a flat with the best facilities.

She did not want her daughter to be away from her father’s love and wanted the family to be happy. So, after some time, her husband was able to enter Germany legally because of their daughter.

Old struggles

But unfortunately, the fights and arguments started again. Her husband could not see that she had all her freedoms and a prosperous life that a human deserves to have; most importantly, she was not financially dependent on her husband like before. This situation severely affected her physical and mental health, and her mental condition got worse day by day.

In order to save her life from falling apart, she wanted to become a mother for the second time, but with the birth of her second child, the problems in her life did not diminish. Finally, after 17 years of a challenging and tough life, she separated from her husband.

Now she lives alone with her two children. She says:

I feel that I made a wise decision; this is a country where every person decides their own life. I am no longer afraid of anyone.

Finally, she started life in its true meaning, learnt the language and passed her B1 exam.

New hopes

Regarding her future decision, she stated: “I want to become a paramedic driver, and for that, I have decided to take an Ausbildung.”

She wishes to find an excellent job so that she can earn a better income and become financially independent. She likes working with the elderly.

A dream came true

The beginning of the day of her happiness counts from when she flew to Germany, the flight to joy and peace. Entering the land of humanity, where she could be herself.

She says: “I have achieved the biggest dream of my life that I wanted to be a free woman, a dream that was impossible and unimaginable for me 17 years ago. I don’t have a bigger dream anymore.”

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