As a woman-run organization, JFAO advocates for women’s involvement in law and politics. We empower women, enhancing their capability to succeed in legal and judicial studies. With a staff comprised on mostly women, JFAO provides access to essential rights through free legal services, economic vocational trainings, health, social, and cultural programs. We advocate for victims of human rights abuse, particularly women, children, the disabled, and the indigent. These two stories provide a glimpse of the tragedies experienced by Afghan women as well as the success of womenfocused programs.
Narges: Picturing a Life Free of Violence
Narges is 28 years old now. She married 15 years ago, against her will, to her stepbrother. She was 13 years old when she got together with a man who was 30 years old. She suffered a lot at the hands of her rapist/husband. Almost daily, he tortured her.
Domestic violence was as common as domestic chores in her early teens. Year after year she suffered on the verge of suicide. Then, in her late 20s, she discovered that she had an uncle. She went to her uncle’s house and begged for
help. Her uncle offered her protection in his house and agreed to help her to divorce her ruthless husband. With no money, her uncle brought her to the JFAO Family Guidance Center (FGC) in mid-December 2019.
Narges was damaged physically, emotionally and permanently. With an understanding that only female-attorneys can muster, the FGC lawyers immediately began divorce proceedings. Simultaneously, trained counselors began treating Narges for depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In her first appointment at the FGC, health professionals discovered Narges had lathered her body in a flammable lubricant. Had she not come to the FGC she had determined to commit suicide by self-immolation. With cleaning, care, protection and treatment, Narges began to respond.
Today, Narges is emotionally stable, physically healthy, and nearly free of her abusive husband. On her last visit, a wisp of a smile crossed her face as she discussed her future and her dreams. With the help of the FGC staff, Narges survived.
Samira: Standing-up for Her Rights
Samira married two years ago and within a year gave birth to twin daughters. Through an arrangement by her father, Samira had married Fareed, an uneducated, jobless man who was quick to anger.
From nearly the first week of their marriage, Fareed been physically and emotionally abusive, beating, insulting and isolating Samira from her friends and family. At other times, he became so enraged that he kicked her out of her house leaving her alone with two infant children.
By the second year of marriage, she could endure the violence no more. She wanted to get divorce, she wanted a safe environment for her daughters, and she wanted to go home to her mother. With no money, Samira waited for just the right opportunity. When her husband and his complicit family left her and her daughters home alone, she saw her chance and took it. Grabbing her two babies, Samira ran to her mother as quickly as her feet would carry her. Almost as quickly, she rushed to the court to beg for a divorce.
The court referred her to the Family Guidance Center (FGC) in Kabul, operated by female staff members from JFAO. The FGC arranged legal assistance for Samira who confronted her husband about his abuse and asked him for a divorce. He refused, demanding that Samira and the girls be returned to him immediately. The FGC lawyers quickly prepared their case and presented their petition for divorce to the civil judge.
After reading the detailed account of Samira’s tribulations, the judge ruled in her favor, granting her a divorce and custody of her two beautiful daughters.
Samira voluntarily waived her right to alimony from her abusive husband, saying she never wanted anything to do with him again–ever. “I am feeling happy,” she said in her native Dari. “I am free from that ruthless man.” I owe my life and the lives of my daughters to the FGC.” When asked what she was going to do, she smiled and said, “I am going to be a barista, I will be happy.”