Nooria’s Story

“Nooria is 20 years old and from western Afghanistan. She was 16 years of age when she was informed that she would be married. The implicit belief in her neighborhood and by her family was that an unmarried girl at age 16 must have a fault or an imperfection. Her family received a marriage proposal from a member of her extended family and accepted. Nooria had not been asked whether she consented.

On the wedding night, her husband Zia slapped her because he felt the neckline on her dress was revealing. From that moment on, he began hitting her, criticizing her; he forbade her leaving the house without his permission, and forced her to do all the household chores. After eight months of marriage, she got pregnant. Returning from a visit to her doctor, Nooria was met by Zia who beat her for daring to leave the house. Nooria suffered a miscarriage as a result of the beating.

Her father advised her not to even think of leaving her marital home and told her that divorce would bring shame upon the family.

Nooria became pregnant again but her husband carried on beating her regardless. She was able to carry the child to full term giving birth to a girl at home. Her husband was angry at the birth of a girl child and beat Nooria. Over the months, the intensity of the beatings worsened.

When her child was three months old, during one of her husband’s rages, he picked up their child and threw her across the room. On that same day, when her husband was out of the house, Nooria picked up her baby girl and left for her parent’s house. Her parents told her she should return to her husband’s house and were not prepared to accept her back home. After a while, her parents agreed to let her and her child stay.

Nooria spent a year in her parent’s home. Her husband came to see her and asked her to return. She felt that no one in her family supported her decision to leave her husband.

Although she wanted to obtain a divorce, she knew that it was unlikely. She feared that if she sought a divorce, the shame and stigma of being a divorced woman would destroy the marriage chances of her two younger siblings.

In May 2005, Amnesty International was informed that Nooria had returned to her husband. Her decision was based on traditional attitudes and prejudice from her family and community in which a woman must not leave her marital home, regardless of the suffering she may be enduring.”

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