Seventeen year old Pakistani girl, Gul Meena reflects in a special CNN feature on an arranged marriage that found her repeatedly abused at the hands of her then much elder husband and the subsequent attempt on her life by her brother who attempted to enact an ‘honor killing’ when she finally chose to leave her marriage.
Married at the age of twelve against her will to a 60 year old man, Gul Meena was forced to endure constant physical abuse despite her many pleas that her husband desist.
Attempts by the girl to bring her husband’s actions to her family’s attention only lead to the girl being beaten further by her family who insisted she had no choice but to respect her husband’s will.
Told the girl: ‘They told me you belong in your husband’s house – that is your life.’
Inevitably after 5 years of marriage Gul took to running away from her husband with a young Afghan man of November last year, knowing full well she was committing the ultimate crime according to strict Islamic customs — running away from her husband with another man
Recalls Gul: ‘When I ran away I knew it would be dangerous. I knew my husband and family would be looking for me but I never thought this would happen. I thought my future would be bright.’
Nevertheless within days of her escape Gul’s brother found the couple and proceeded to hack her boyfriend to death with an axe, whilst hitting her 15 times with the weapon.
Thinking that he had taken his sister’s life, the brother ran away leaving Gul hemorrhaging in a pool of blood. Fortunately surgeons at Nangarhar Regional Medical Center were able to save the girl’s life.
By now disowned by her family and despite the government and authorities knowing that she was alive and receiving care at the hospital, they wanted nothing to do with her due to the stigma and circumstances surrounding her attack.
Nonetheless doctors at the center were able to pay for the girl’s medicine for a period of two months before a local charity, Women for Afghan Women took her to a shelter in Kabul.
Manizha Naderi, the charity’s executive director goes on to tell how Gul could not even feed herself and that she was forced to wear a diaper.
Tells a disparaged Gul: ‘I’ve tried to kill myself several times since arriving at the shelter but they won’t let me. When I look at the mirror I put one hand to the side of my face. People tell me not to do that… but I’m so ashamed.’
The feature goes on to explain how Gul Meena is one of thousands of women living in shelters across Afghanistan — many of them victims of attempted honor killings. The practice it is understood still exists in a number of cultures, including certain tribes in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
At present Gul’s brother has yet to be apprehended whilst her family denies that he tried to kill Gul.