Married at the age of four, an Afghan girl was subjected to years of beatings and torture, finally escaping to discover that within all the world’s cruelty, there is also some kindness.
KABUL, Afghanistan – Eleven-year old Gulsoma lay in a heap on the ground in front of her father-in-law. He told her that if she didn’t find a missing watch by the next morning he would kill her. He almost had already.
Enraged about the missing watch, Gulsoma’s father-in-law had beaten her repeatedly with a stick. She was bleeding from wounds all over her body and her right arm and right foot had been broken.
She knew at that moment that if she didn’t get away, he would make good on his promise to kill her.
[…]”They beat me with electric wires,” she says, “mostly on the legs. My father-in-law told his other children to do it that way so the injuries would be hidden. He said to them, ‘break her bones, but don’t hit her on the face.'”
There were even times when the family’s abuse of Gulsoma transcended the bounds of the most wanton, sadistic cruelty, as on the occasions when they used her as a human tabletop, forcing her to lie on her stomach then cutting their food on her bare back.
[…] One evening, Gulsoma says, when her father-in-law saw the neighbor giving her food and a blanket, he took them away and beat her mercilessly. Then, she says, he locked her in a shed for two months. “I would be kept there all day,” she says, “then at night they would let me go the bathroom and I would be fed one time each day. Most of the time it was only bread and sometimes some beans.”
She says every day she was locked in the shed, she wished and prayed that her parents would come and take her away. Then she would remember that her father was dead and her mother was gone.
But Gulsoma had an inner strength even her father-in-law couldn’t comprehend. “When he came to the shed he kept asking me, ‘Why don’t you die? I imprisoned you, I give you less food, but still you don’t die.'”
She says she believes there are other girls like her in Kandahar, maybe elsewhere in Afghanistan, and that she wants to study human rights and one day go back to help them. (READ ALL)
And the second from students in Pakistan (from Christian Science Monitor)
Like many students at Punjab University, Mohammed Abid Faran worries about living costs almost as much as his studies. To save rupees, he counts on an Islamist student organization, Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT), which keeps prices at the university hostel artificially low. “Here a cup of tea costs three rupees,” Mr. Faran, an engineering student, says. “Outside it costs six.”
But Faran worries that IJT dictates not only the price of tea but the proper comportment of Muslim students in this cosmopolitan city as well. “We are studying, and they are saying we should protest, without regard if we are busy and want to go or not,” he says, referring to a recent demonstration on campus over the controversial cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. “Why should they put pressure on us?”
Such conflicted feelings underscore a heated debate on Pakistani campuses over the influence of groups like IJT. Islamist student unions are battling for the hearts and minds of young Muslims – receiving a boost from a growing student conservatism as well as IJT’s ability to fill in gaps left by the poor funding of education here.
[…] students say they’ve seen IJT activists beat others whose public behavior they deem unacceptable. In one example highlighted by the local press, IJT activists allegedly beat a newly married couple whom they mistakenly thought were flirting in public.
IJT activists deny such charges. “This is false propaganda. There is not one incident in which IJT workers beat students,” says Nasurallah Khan Goraya, president of IJT, which is linked to the Jamaat Islami, a popular Islamist party with seats in the National Assembly.
[…] Critics, however, say that IJT’s strong-arm tactics at Punjab expose their ideological agenda. Four years ago, IJT spearheaded a movement for a walled-off cafeteria for women, points out professor Mujahid Ali Mansoori. “They would not allow a single boy and girl to sit alone,” he says, adding, “When I was a student 30 years ago, it was a lot more liberal.”
Professor Mansoori and other faculty say the incident is but one example of IJT’s growing power, despite the fact that IJT is technically banned from campuses, the result of a 1992 Supreme Court ruling aimed at ending decades of political violence at universities. And, they say, its influence reaches into the ranks of senior administration. (REAL ALL)