Newsspot – With Help, Afghan ‘Honor’ Victim Inches Back

To be honest, I was going to leave it a photo today, but seeing this post while browsing The New York Times made me rethink and decide to post this. It’s incidents like these that remind me, and should remind all of us, how lucky we are to live in western society where none of these ‘Honor’ killings take place, especially with Women. I honestly hope that Gul can make a full recovery, and that someone will find it in them to take care of her, now her family have seemingly abandoned her.

With Help, Afghan ‘Honor’ Victim Inches Back

Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

Gul Meena, who was reportedly attacked by her brother for dishonoring their family, recovering at a hospital in Jalalabad.

Published: December 1, 2012

JALALABAD, Afghanistan — It is doubly miraculous that the young woman named Gul Meena is alive. After she was struck by an ax 15 times, slashing her head and face so deeply that it exposed her brain, she held on long enough to reach medical care and then, despite the limitations of what the doctors could do, clung to life.

“We had no hope she would survive,” said Dr. Zamiruddin, a neurosurgeon at the Nangarhar Regional Medical Center in the eastern city of Jalalabad who, like many Afghans, uses only one name. After she was brought in, he worked for more than six hours in the hospital’s rudimentary operating theater, gently reinserting her brain and stitching her many wounds.

For weeks afterward, she was often unconscious, always uncommunicative and, but for the hospital staff, utterly alone, with no family members to care for her. That is because, if the accounts from her home province are true, she is an adulterer: though already married, she ran away with another man, moving south until her family caught up with them.

Locals say that the man who wielded the ax against her, and also killed the man with her, was most likely her brother.

That she reached a hospital and received care at all is the second part of the miracle: the villagers, doctors and nurses who helped her were bucking a deeply ingrained tradition that often demands death for women who dishonor their families.

Such “honor killings” of women exist in a number of cultures, but in Afghanistan they are firmly anchored by Pashtunwali, an age-old tribal code prevalent in the ethnic Pashtun areas of the country that the government and rights advocates have fought for years to override with a national civil legal system. This year, six such killings have been reported in Afghanistan’s far east alone, more than in each of the past two years, and for every one that comes to light, human rights advocates believe a dozen or more remain hidden.

Gul Meena’s story, as best it can be pieced together from relatives, tribal elders and others, gives insight into that deeply entrenched tribal culture. But it is also a story about a society struggling to come to terms with a different way of thinking about women.

The Americans and Europeans have put a special emphasis on programs to help Afghan women and raise awareness of their rights. Now, as the Western money and presence are dwindling, women’s advocates fear that even the limited gains will erode and a more tribal and Taliban culture will prevail, especially in the south and east of the country, where Pashtun tribal attitudes toward women are strongly held.

It is a credit to many people — villagers, doctors, the police, rights advocates — that they chose to help Gul Meena, overcoming centuries of distaste for dealing with so-called moral crimes. The doctors at the Nangarhar Regional Medical Center who first treated her and cared for her for weeks were aware of her likely transgressions and chose to ignore them. However, the doctors, who say Gul Meena is about 18, were also bewildered about what to do with her.

“She has no one; no mother has come, no father, no one from her tribe has come,” said Dr. Abdul Shakoor Azimi, the hospital’s medical director, as he stood at the foot of her bed looking at her. “What is the solution? Even the government, the police, even the Women’s Affairs Ministry, they are not coming here to follow up and visit the patient.”

A patient in an Afghan hospital without a family member is a neglected soul. Most hospitals are so impoverished that they offer only the bed itself and limited medical care. Gul Meena lay in her own urine when a reporter first visited her because no relative was there to change her sheets. Hospital staff members were able to tend to her sporadically, but they are overstretched. Without a relative, the patient has no one to pay for drugs, drips, needles or food, no one to bring fresh clothes.


Are you feeling grateful yet?

I sure am.

Not trying to go all Biblical, but this whole story reminds me of the woman ‘caught in adultery’ when Jesus intervened before they could stone her. What did he say then?

Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’

Now, I’m not justifying what she did, but ‘Honor’ killings, is definitely not the way to resolve the issue, and nor will it be anytime soon. Ever.

As you can probably tell, this is only page one of the article. I whole-heartedly encourage you to go and read the rest of it too, over here: NY Times – With Help, Afghan ‘Honor’ Victim Inches Back


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