Let's Remove the Black Mark by Moving on and Fighting, Together!

Rabia Salihi
Posted April 21, 2013 from Afghanistan

We were almost home, back from school. Walking up the street and having a happy conversation we did not realize the person riding on a bike from behind until he got very near. It was me who realized first and looked back but it was too late. His hand had already left its print on her buttock because she was the one near. The mark left on her dress was black and oily demonstrating him a casual illiterate man. I gathered and threw a handful of stones to his side but he was already gone and my hand shaking with anger. It always happens during such moments; when I want to throw stones with my hands shake and it does not fall even near the target making me feel that I have neither the ability to let go nor the ability to face it and fight. Back home, she was shed into tears making my mother worry every day we left for school. The black mark on her school dress did not clean up after that.

It was years ago maybe in grade 9th (2007-8). She left school in 11th grade because she said she was fed up. That was not the only reason of her leaving school. She was already engaged because everyday my uncle would stop her on the way to school telling her to decide quickly. Engagement, let alone marriage, is the end of education in lives of many whose in-laws want a child-bearing machine not the one that reads and writes.

The way to fight against these barriers is to fight against it, strongly and longer. I wish she had stood for a little more because now she has just moved from one hell to another; I'd have stood beside her.

Recently, just last summer during my internship program, I had to leave early in the mornings and run the streets so that I wouldn't face boys or men hitting on my chest when coming from the front or fingering when coming from behind. Sometimes, it was the followers’ stones thrown at my back that made me complete a 20-minutes way in 5 minutes. Though, any girl would become a good runner facing such a situation every day.

Education itself is a solution of its own barriers; doesn't matter what type. If that man was educated such as a teacher; I bet his behavior wouldn't have been like that. Or for the least, if he was aware that both of us had the same right to freely walk on those streets not the mindset that we shouldn't have set our foot outside the house, he would have praised girls going to school. If my uncle knew that she, as an individual, had the full right to decide about when and to whom she should get married, she wouldn't have end up leaving school in grade 11th.

The barriers continue and so does the solutions but it is us who can decide to fight or not.

Girls Transform the World 2013

Comments 5

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pelamutunzi
Apr 21, 2013
Apr 21, 2013

this is a sad story and I only hope that this kind of craziness stop. the right to move freely has been taken away as there is always fear of someone coming and harassing you. uncles also need education but it also desires strong willpower from girls to refuse such unions and raise their voice to fight against it

Iffat Gill
Apr 25, 2013
Apr 25, 2013

Hi Rabia,

Indeed this is a sad story and I like the way you write. Everyday harassment against women and particularly young girls is prevalent in our region. This leaves women full of anger and frustration and often hesitant to leave the house without a chaperone.

You pointed out rightfully: "If that man was educated such as a teacher; I bet his behavior wouldn't have been like that. Or for the least, if he was aware that both of us had the same right to freely walk on those streets not the mindset that we shouldn't have set our foot outside the house, he would have praised girls going to school."

Education is indeed the answer to a lot of social and cultural barriers we face as women. Also, I could not help but smile at your quote: "...followers’ stones thrown at my back that made me complete a 20-minutes way in 5 minutes. Though, any girl would become a good runner facing such a situation every day."

I loved how your sense of humour shines through all this and how you keep getting strength from this everyday harassment because you refuse to bow in front of this inhumane behaviour and stereotypes against women. I am glad you managed to get education and now are able to share not just your own story but stories of your friends too. You are becoming the voice of your region!

Keep writing and keep fighting!

Julie Thompson
Apr 28, 2013
Apr 28, 2013

Hello, Rabia.

Indeed, the strength of your convictions shined through as I was reading your journal entry. My head was shaking at the thought of you and your sister having to experience such degradation trying to get to school and back each day.

One of my mantras is Education is Liberation. It truly is the answer to many social and cultural barriers, but change can come very slowly as you are painfully aware. You truly live in a country divided on the rights of women, and really, aren't they just human rights after all?

Cheers to you and your indomitable spirit!

Julie

Tait
Apr 28, 2013
Apr 28, 2013

Rabia,

Continue to stay strong for your dreams and your goals. Continue to be an example and empower girls that are looking up to you.

While reading your journal I must remember that I've been given the privilege to have equal access to education; and yet my sister in Afghanistan has to fight each day going to and from school. My sister is also fighting with people in her family about her future access to education. I'm used to support from within the family.

To you my sister I say stay strong for I am also looking up to you.

ccontreras
Apr 28, 2013
Apr 28, 2013

We hear about stories like you share with us in the news, but I did not realize that this was an epidemic that keeps occurring so much to different women in Afghanistan. I truly admire all of you who have gone to get an education, despite all of the awful things that you have to endure while getting to school and back. Your bravery is admirable! Peace and love! Cynthia