Khalid Hosseini’s Thousand Splendid Suns brought tears in my eyes. Some good books, though fiction grip the readers. But this book brought one more thought to my mind – Though the story was fictional, it portrayed the lives of women in Afghanistan as it truly was. A true story would be the story of one person while this was the life of many people portrayed through one character.
Women who worked were fired and restricted to the four walls of their home. The many years of education given to them, the dreams with which they grew up all went to the dogs. The only women who could work were the doctors the reason being, no male doctors were allowed to treat the women. In my case, I cannot tolerate anybody who orders me to stay at home and not work or socialize with people. And it baffles me to know that a country full of women had to do that. Unable to react or to even to express their dreams.
They weren’t allowed to step outside the house without a male accomplice. They had to be covered from head to foot. The Burqa- was of prime importance. Can you imagine being fully clothed from head to toe to fingertips on a hot summer day? They had to be so throughout. A burqa to hide their body and dreams.
The obvious question would be what if they followed none of these rules. They were beaten. Beaten black and blue. For instance in the book, the girl named Laila who was twenty-three and had a daughter Six years of age (apparently she got married at the age of fourteen), had to sneak out of the house to meet the latter. Daughters (even in India) are and were a burden to parents. And so, since the Man of the house couldn’t ‘afford’ to feed the girl child (While the boy child was a gift), she was admitted in an orphanage. Helpless Laila had to sneak through to meet her own daughter because her sixty year old husband refused to accompany her since he was ‘getting too old’ to walk (though his age was no bar to the beatings and lashings he gave his wives).
She was caught once and sent back, caught again and lashed, thrashed and this continued for days together. But a mother never stopped seeking her child, did she? The sight of her daughter and her smile, drove all her pains away.
Hospitals for women were converted to only men. And women were given nothing more than rooms which had no basic amenities, no medical supplies and not even anaesthesia. These so-called-hospitals for women were situated in the interiors and far off areas. Since female doctors were too few, Women had to wait for hours together for treatment and sometimes many weren’t treated too.
When Laila got pregnant the second time, she had to wait for hours for a doctor and once the doctor checked her, the foetus’ position was such that a caesarean was required. The worse part came next, the first wife who accompanied Laila was told that they had no supply of anaesthesia and she was willing to go miles to get it from elsewhere. But when the doctor said it would be too late, that the child would be lost, Laila asks her to cut her open without the drug. And so they do…
It is beyond my imagination…
For the military men, little girls and women were given as reward for their efforts in fighting and conquering. A mockery of their own rules for women which were ‘made to respect them!’
Even today, women in Afghanistan are still stuck between the four walls of their houses. Men with the same old mentality, not letting women out of the house unless they are covered from head to toe. Treating them like vermin , abusing physically and mentally, thrashing and beating until every bit of the energy has been squeezed out. And no one is to question the domestic abuse while they give it the name ‘protecting the women.’
PS: Domestic violence isn’t restricted to the borders of Afghanistan alone. There are tens of hundreds of households in India where the housewives get their fair share of thrashing.