Two Young Afghans Join the Taliban

Nov 4, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   Uncategorized  //  6 Comments

All names in this real story are unreal.

Sex­ual Harass­ment
Basir, who lived with his extended fam­ily in a lit­tle vil­lage 20 KM out­side Jalal­abad city, raped his sister-in-law. The vic­tim, Shinkai, finally told her hus­band and the rest of her in-laws at home after spend­ing two long days going over it in her head. She shared it with them so that they would pun­ish Basir for his unfor­giv­able crime. Nobody in the fam­ily believed her and every­body thought that she was mak­ing up the whole story. Every­body in the fam­ily looked at her as a trou­ble­maker and they all started treat­ing her badly. She didn’t want to go to the police because that would’ve pub­li­cized it, every­body would’ve found out about it and that would’ve degraded the family’s honor.
Feel­ing very dis­tressed and extremely embar­rassed by see­ing Basir at home every day and the rest of the fam­ily treat­ing her inhu­manely, Shinkazi thought it was time she shared the story with her own par­ents and her crazy broth­ers back home in the nearby vil­lage. She told her par­ents and broth­ers that some­thing had been both­er­ing her very much lately and she asked them not to use emo­tions and instead help her out. Shinkai’s broth­ers blew their top and went directly to her hus­band, Jawed, and warned him to do some­thing about it or he might be sorry. He didn’t do any­thing imme­di­ately about this since he wanted to involve the rest of the fam­ily. It’s not clear why the fam­ily didn’t inves­ti­gate more.

Shinkazi’s broth­ers warned Jawed a num­ber of times and asked him to do some­thing about their sister’s rape (I am not sure what they meant by “do some­thing” but I am assum­ing they wanted him to kill his brother). Her broth­ers waited for about one month to see Basir pun­ished for his crime. Basir’s fam­ily looked at this story as a con­spir­acy and gave Shinkai and her broth­ers the cold shoul­der, one of Shinkai’s broth­ers, Crazy Rahim, thought that it was time for him do some­thing about it. It was noon and the men of the vil­lage were at work, includ­ing Basir him­self. All women were at home. Rahim, filled with anger and dis­ap­point­ment, went to Basir’s house with a vicious intent of rap­ing his sis­ter. By rap­ing Basir’s sis­ter, he thought they would be even. He locked all the women in one room and took Basir’s sis­ter, Gul­shan, into another room in the back with him and locked the room from behind.
Gul­shan was a sin­gle inno­cent young girl. When a woman loses her vir­gin­ity in Afghanistan and peo­ple find out then no men will marry her. Her image has been tainted. In a rape case, the rapist and the vic­tim are killed because they bring shame to their fam­i­lies. That’s part of the rea­son why many women would keep it to them­selves and never tell any­body — the unbear­ably harsh truth.

Time for Basir to Move and Retal­i­ate
When Gulshan’s broth­ers came from work in the evening and found out about her, they were very agi­tated and started brain­storm­ing a plan for an imme­di­ate retal­i­a­tion. They were quiet the fol­low­ing day and moved to a secret place when it was night. They moved under the cover of dark­ness to a secret place so that nobody could see them. All of the fam­ily mem­bers also left the vil­lage and went into hid­ing, Gulshan’s two broth­ers came back to their vil­lage the fol­low­ing day with a Russ­ian AK47 and a rusty Pak­istani pis­tol. Both broth­ers knew were Rahim worked and went directly there.
They found Rahim, pulled him out of his taxi and threw him on the ground. Basir shot him with his pis­tol one time but it jammed. Then Jawed, Shinkai’s hus­band, shot him 30 times with his AK47. They hi-fived in the lit­tle bazaar out­side Jalal­abad and then escaped back to their secret sanctuary.

Where Is this Secret Place?
When Basir and Jawed killed Rahim they already had a per­ma­nent sanc­tu­ary in mind. Basir went to the Tal­iban and told them their heroic story and how they defended their honor. Impressed by their story, the Tal­iban accepted the free lunch offered by Basir and Jawed with a very warm wel­come. They gave them extra weapons and promised them a “life­time” of pro­tec­tion. Basir’s fam­ily had to leave every­thing behind includ­ing their land, home­town, rel­a­tives and friends. The story gets even worse. God only knows what will hap­pen to the two broth­ers and their fam­ily when they are in the real Tal­iban “hi-five” games.

Law and Order Vs Pash­toon­wali and Honor
Why didn’t any of them refer to the law or gov­ern­ment? That’s a good ques­tion and the expla­na­tion is a lit­tle com­pli­cated.
In our soci­ety, if our honor has been vio­lated it is not com­mon to press charges because this is con­sid­ered cow­ardly and weak. That’s where Pash­toon­wali comes in. Pash­toon­wali is the state of being Pash­toon and a Pash­toon is con­sid­ered strong and pow­er­ful. If some­one tries to seek jus­tice through the gov­ern­ment, this is con­sid­ered degrad­ing to their Pash­toon­wali, honor and image among other Pash­toons. Using your own power and tak­ing revenge is pre­ferred by most peo­ple here. Using a third party (in this case the gov­ern­ment) to defend your honor and to pro­tect your­self is a sign of weak­ness. This is true for almost 100% of the cases in rural areas.

Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Jirga: Another Option
Another option for resolv­ing con­flict dis­putes in the com­mu­nity is through a Jirga. Com­mu­nity lead­ers and elders get together as medi­a­tors and they come up with what they think is a work­able agree­ment for both sides. Both sides directly affected, choose their medi­a­tors called Jirga­mars and give them full author­ity to make the deci­sion. Nei­ther side can talk to each other face to face because they get emo­tional and can­not agree eas­ily. The Jirga­mars usu­ally ask for some­thing called Machal­gha which is a huge amount of money that both sides tem­porar­ily leave with the medi­a­tors who have full author­ity and will rep­re­sent them. This money will remain with the medi­a­tors until the end of the Jirga and the result which will solid­ify their author­ity. If a side does not agree with the deci­sion then they lose their money and it goes to the medi­a­tors. It’s such a huge amount for the vil­lagers that peo­ple have to bor­row from one another which makes the sit­u­a­tion even worse. Regard­less of the final deci­sion at the Jirga both sides will have to agree so that they can get their money back.
Some­times these so called rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Jir­gas make irra­tional deci­sions, like order­ing each fam­ily to give girls (for mar­riage) or call on both sides to swap daugh­ters. The Jirga thinks that these com­pen­satory mar­riages will cre­ate stronger ties between the fam­i­lies but a lot of the times these inno­cent women are treated like after their mar­riage. A Jirga does not usu­ally solve prob­lems because some peo­ple will still take revenge even after a Jirga.

My Expe­ri­ence with a Jirga
I was about 17 years old when I got stabbed four times in the back near our neigh­bor­hood. I am not going to go into detail of how and why but in the future at some point I might. To make a long story short, I was hos­pi­tal­ized for ten days and I got nine stitches and some ugly scars on my back but luck­ily no inter­nal dam­age.
Every­body came to our home to ask about my health. To add insult to injury, most of my vis­i­tors would “advise” me and my fam­ily to take revenge and kill Gaddaffi, the guy who had stabbed me. “We are with you”, they would say. My vis­i­tors would usu­ally bring fruit. One dis­tant rel­a­tive came and brought me a bag of fruit in one hand and an AK47 in the other. “I want you to shoot him with this gun”, he said.
My fam­ily decided to go to the police. After the police inves­ti­ga­tion they sen­tenced him with 3 years of prison for intended mur­der. Since Gaddaffi was in high school and he was almost my age at the time, my dad didn’t want him to be in jail and not go to school for three years. My father went to the local court with a bunch of elders from our town and for­gave him. The judge asked us to do a Jirga and come to an agree­ment signed by both fam­i­lies. We did do a small Jirga and agreed that we would never try to harm their fam­ily. Later, many rel­a­tives and friends were upset with us for not hav­ing lis­tened to them. Had we gone with the tra­di­tional form of revenge, only God knows where I would be, who would be exploit­ing my fam­ily now or if we would still be alive at all.

  • Shuf­flinfun

    It is hard to under­stand the bru­tal­ity of your cul­ture and the lack of women’s rights. But if that is the way your peo­ple want it you should be allowed to con­tinue with it.

    • Hameed­tasal

      I respect your ver­sion of democ­racy but it’s against the Afghan and inter­na­tional laws. Why do par­ents care for their chil­dren until a cer­tain age? Because there is a lot they need to learn before they can be on their own. I think edu­ca­tion, I mean the right kind of edu­ca­tion, can solve this problem.

  • Anony­mous

    Do you think that much of the ranks of the Tal­iban is filled with fugi­tives from the law or other cir­cum­stance (such as a chain of cul­tural ret­ri­bu­tion) who turn to this orga­ni­za­tion as a mat­ter of last resort, as in the case of the guys you describe here?

    • Hameed­tasal

      There are peo­ple who turn to them as a last resort. There are also many who join them because either their whole fam­ily or mem­bers of their fam­ily who were inno­cent were killed in ISAF drone attacks. Some­thing that ISAF calls “col­lat­eral dam­age”. To these peo­ple this is a way they can retal­i­ate. There are other peo­ple who are just poor.. Com­ing soon.

  • Hameed­tasal

    In some instances, peo­ple don’t go to the gov­ern­ment because it’s cor­rupt. When some­one com­mits a crime you want to see them pun­ished for their crime. Some­times these per­pe­tra­tors have strong con­nec­tions with offi­cials or they do after they are in prison. They’ll give bribe to them and they’ll let them go. When they are out again they would still intim­i­date their “ene­mies”. And then every­body in town is afraid of them because they think of them as so strong that even the gov­ern­ment can’t bend them.

  • Hameed­tasal

    Read this rel­e­vant arti­cle about women’s rights: “My daugh­ter deserved to die for falling in love.”: