life was hell, and heavenly now!

life story

case study of Ruzaab shared by Ms Asiya Mughal

She had spent a miserable childhood in a derelict abode somewhere in the streets of Kabul, Afghanistan. She used to spend her days following her mother tugging at her shawl as the Mom would roam around in the streets and adjacent fields to gather dry wood to burn in the hearth. And at home she would lean against her in front of the hearth while Mom cooks the meal, trying to keep herself warm in the bitter cold winters. She would hardly step out of ‘home’ to play with other children in the locality out of fear of Taliban or other hostile elements lurking out there to pounce upon a soft prey. She can’t remember what age she was but she was around 5 or may be 6 years old when one day she found her father handing her over to some strangers who came to their doorsteps riding in a car. She was too excited to have a ride in the car and completely ignored the tears flowing from the eyes of her mother or to hear the sobs escaping from the clinched teeth. She waved at her family, father, mother and other siblings from the window of the car as it sped away. It never occurred to her that her father has sold her for 200,000 rupees to a family from Gujranwala in Pakistan. That was the last time she saw her family!

It was too late for her to realize as to what had happened to her. She was brought to the Pakistani city of Gujranwala where the family kept her domestic servant. She was made to clean the whole house, wash utensils, do the laundry and eventually was taught to make tea and cook too. Soon the male members of the family also started sexually abusing her. She kept quiet. But she was learning as she was growing up. One day she was told by the landlady that she was going to marry her with a mentally retard male member of her family. They were using a fake identity card, a basic requirement for solemnizing the wedding according to Islamic laws. She rebelled. And during the dark of night she crept out of the house and started walking away in absolutely unknown direction. It became darker and colder by the minute. She saw a buffalo pen and she crept inside. She slept in the stake of hay for the night. In the morning she was spotted by the people who raised hue and cry. Soon she was identified as belonging to that household and was brought back. To the hell!

She was eventually wedded off immediately after her return. She was kept under close watch. But she had decided to escape. One night she got the opportunity and this time she kept walking till the time she came to a major road where traffic was flowing. She was standing on the roadside when a truck driver spotted her and picked her up and took her to another nearby city, Gujrat. There she was kept confined in a house for some time and was sexually abused. Eventually she managed to escape and reached a madrassah (religious seminary). There was no respite for her. Circumstances took a turn in the seminary that she had to escape from there too. She managed to travel to Rawalpindi, a major city adjacent to the federal capital, Islamabad. She went to’ the government-run shelter home for homeless girls and women.

After some time a family came and adopted her and took her away to live with them. The peace was no to be found there. She soon became victim of sexual abuse by more than one males of the family. She ran away and returned to the shelter home. She was too afraid to step out of the confines of shelter home now. But the conditions inside the shelter home also were very hostile. She was a grown up young lady now. Having a lot of experience of practical life as a ‘girl-turned-woman’ too early in her life, she was not ready to take any more punishment from life. But the living conditions inside the shelter home were hellish. She was losing her mental balance. She used to take to a corner of the small room, staring constantly at the blank wall for hours and on. She would hardly care if she has eaten or drink water for days. She has become mentally and psychologically instable. She would laugh and she would cry her heart out for no reason. One day she demanded to be relieved from shelter home and live her own.

There entered an angel in her life. A lady, Ms Asiya Parveen Mughal, a human rights activist and the defender of the women and child rights and a Law graduate. She spotted this young Afghan girl during one of her visits to the shelter home. She was attracted to the young girl, evidently in extreme distress. Ms Asiya Parveen started paying her visits and spent most of her time at the shelter home in company of this young Afghan girl. Then one of her visits Ms Asiya Parveen found the young Afghan girl absent from the shelter home. When she inquired, she was told that the Afghan girl has got relieve from the court of law and has already left to lead her life on her own. Ms Asiya Parveen was surprised and perturbed over this sudden development.

The same evening she received a call from an unknown number on her cell phone which she reluctantly answered to. And she was surprised to find this young Afghan girl on the other end, pleading her to come to a shrine in the suburbs of Islamabad, the federal capital of Pakistan, to pick her and provide her some protection. Asiya Parveen rushed to the place and rescued her. The Afghan girl was not ready to return to the shelter home and she also was afraid to approach the police because she has no legal documents and was an illegal immigrant to Pakistan practically. Ms Asiya Parveen took a bold step as she took the girl to her home and kept her there for the next four days. During this time she approached the Afghan embassy and spoke with the one official, Mr Zardasht Shams, who asked her to bring the Afghan girl to the embassy. The Afghan embassy officials thanked Ms Asiya Parveen and then gave the young girl in custody of a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), which was working in coordination with the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Islamabad. The UNHCR provided shelter to the Afghan girl with an Afghan family registered with the UNHCR and living in Bharakahu, a suburban locality of Islamabad. In due course of time the UNHCR processed the Afghan girl’s case for international re-settlement.

Ms Asiya satisfied in her heart that she has been able to help one young girl who has lived a hellish life since her childhood and had seen no happiness at all. Then one day she received a call on her cell phone from some unknown country. She attended the call and was jubiliant to hear the voice of the young Afghan girl on the other end. “I am in the city of Auckland in New Zealand. The UNHCR has settled me here. I am very comfortable. These days I am learning English language and I am also planning to learn some other skills and soon I will be able to lead my life independently,” the young Afghan girl told Ms Asiya. She was tearfully overjoyed to hear the good news. She has been able to bring color to the listless and traumatic life of a young girl!