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.