Persecution of Women Who Are Divorced/Never Officially Married
'We're All Handcuffed in This Country'
The TIME article "'We're All Handcuffed in This Country'" can be used to support the factual claims and legal arguments made by the applicant. The following are relevant excerpts, as well as the link to the entire article.
“Women never have any choices,” Khadija said last December in the hospital, as tears streamed down her face, a barely recognizable charred patchwork of fresh scars. “If I did, I wouldn’t have married him. We’re all handcuffed in this country.” Page 3
"As in all war-torn societies, women suffer disproportionately. Afghanistan is still ranked the worst place in the world to be a woman. Despite Afghan government and international donor efforts since 2001 to educate girls, an estimated two-thirds of Afghan girls do not attend school. Eighty-seven percent of Afghan women are illiterate, while 70-80 percent face forced marriage, many before the age of 16. A September watchdog report called the USAID’s $280 million Promote program – billed the largest single investment that the U.S. government has ever made to advance women’s rights globally – a flop and a waste of taxpayer’s money. Government statistics from 2014 show that 80 percent of all suicides are committed by women, making Afghanistan one of the few places in the world where rates are higher among women. Psychologists attribute this anomaly to an endless cycle of domestic violence and poverty. The 2008 Global Rights survey found that nearly 90 percent of Afghan women have experienced domestic abuse." Page 4
"Khadija’s sister Aisha said domestic abuse is pervasive. “My husband has hit me for years,” she shrugged. Aisha’s husband is 71 years old; she is 26. Over the years, she said she has thought about getting a divorce, but she knows the reality: she’d lose custody of her three children and likely never marry again. In cases of divorce, women have custody of their children up until the age of 7, then children are given to their fathers." Pages 7-8
"Naseri’s close friend, Hassina Nikzad, the director of Afghan Women’s Network, visited Khadija weekly and reminded her that she could file for a divorce. “But where will I go? Mom is dead and dad is old,” she cried to her sister, Aisha. Nikzad suggested that she could move to a shelter and learn a trade like tailoring. Khadija shook her head and looked down. Last December, Nikzad told me she wasn’t sure Khadija would go through with the divorce. “It’s often easier to stay with the pain. Starting a new life in Afghanistan seems impossible,” she said. “We’re not given any chances, let alone a second chance.” Page 9