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One Woman's Defiance

It has been more than a year since Batool Muradi has begun her legal battle to regain her dignity and claim basic human rights for herself and her children. The fight has been exhausting and hopeless at times, but, if victorious, she will become the first woman in Afghanistan to win a case of this kind.

Batool’s ex-husband, Ghulam Hazrat Wahriz is a writer and a high official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan. He had declared that one of Batool’s children did not belong to him. In Afghanistan this is a very serious accusation with deep legal and social consequence — humiliation, harassment, threats, insults, imprisonment, public banishment, or even stoning.

Batool is a poet, painter and writer and was an active participant in Afghanistan’s intellectual life before Wahriz leveled these accusations. Now, she has a difficult time just finding a place to live because no one would rent to her. Her children are also facing consequences. According to Afghan law a child’s identity is based on that of his or her father. Batool’s son was not able to get a national ID and would have not been able to get a passport to travel outside the country without the known identity of the father.

Two years after their divorce, Wahriz reappeared in Batool’s life and asked for the custody of her older child. In the mean time, Batool had opened a legal case to prove that her children were born to Wahriz and herself.

About two months ago, after nearly a year and a half of battling the corrupt, unjust and discriminatory justice system in Afghanistan and tolerating and fighting humiliation, threats, harassment, and bribe requests, she was able to conduct a DNA test on her younger child. The test proved Wahriz’s accusation wrong and Batool innocent.

This was the first time in Afghanistan that DNA tests were conducted for proving paternity. This accomplishment was an important one for Batool, but also for women in Afghanistan because the kinds of accusations and problems she faced are not uncommon.

However, Batool’s problems did not end after the DNA testing. Now, a case has been opened against her accusing her of “disrespect to police.” The goal of this prosecution is to blackmail Batool into closing her case for reclaiming dignity and force her to not publicize the results of the DNA testing. Batool has made her case public and has decided to keep fighting the good fight.

I met Batool when she was a young woman writing poetry and drawing paintings for a children’s magazine in Afghanistan. She had returned to Afghanistan from Iran with great hopes to be part of change in a country that has suffered decades of war. After her divorce from Wahriz, when Batool was filing the case for reclaiming dignity, a few other activists and I assisted her in finding lawyers and we have since then advocated for transparency for her case in Afghanistan.

Her decision gives me heart and hope that she will be victorious. Batool’s fight and victory will not only affect herself and her children, but will be a major accomplishment for all the men and women who are advocating for gender equality and the rule of law in Afghanistan and in her fight she needs the support of other advocates.

Whether it is through media coverage or through sharing her story with other women, Afghan advocates can use this as an opportunity to create an informal system of holding the justice system in Afghanistan more accountable and raise awareness on the possibility of DNA testing in Afghanistan. The success of this case will bring hope to other women in similar struggles, who might otherwise end up in prison for moral crimes, keep silent or face worse situations.

Through talking with Batool I have learned that one of the most painful truths about her case is the lack of support for her among the intellectuals and even social and women’s rights advocates in Afghanistan. People and public figures that have been vocal on other cases of injustice towards women have silenced Batool’s case. Regardless, Batool’s perseverance and strength has been extraordinary in the fact of desertion by friends and co-workers, violence and threats. It is very rare that a woman in Afghanistan would stand up against such a culturally-sensitive and taboo issue to regain her dignity and honor in her community and to provide her children with full-citizenship rights. It is even rarer for women to fight through the Afghan justice system and have some achievements.

Batool’s case may become an exemplary case of the rule of law in Afghanistan and Batool will finally be acknowledged, supported and praised for her extraordinary fight among the advocates and activists in Afghanistan. This case may serve as a ray of hope for Afghan women struggling with similar cases.

This article appeared first on UN Dispatch.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Ending Violence Against Women Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring an end to gender-based violence. The EVAW Campaign elicits powerful content from women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as vocal grassroots leaders, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Comments

challmsw's picture

Thank you.

Thank you for posting this. It is sad and yet very inspiring.
Peace,
Carol

Sharontina's picture

Easier said than done!

Dear Sister,

Hats off to Batool, the stronger lady raising her powerful voice when several others in Afghanistan remain silent carrying so much pain in their hearts.This of course will be a motivation to others fighting for justice, dignity and human rights.I just can't think about the struggle of humiliation and pain she should have gone through before she reached this stage of victory.

Wonderful posting.

Much love.

Merlin Sharontina

Greengirl's picture

Hearty Cheers to a Pacesetter

Thank you for sharing Batool's story. Considering the social system in Afghanistan especially with respect to women, Batool is worth celebrating. She has succeeded in breaking the ice of silence that has so much relegated Afghan women to the background. Her strides will certainly give other women hope and also make a long over due difference.

I also applaud you and those who stood with her and are still standing with her. You all did it together.

Your post was very articulate and I enjoyed reading it.

Warmly,

Olanike.

Noorjahan Akbar's picture

Thanks!

Dear Olanike,

Thank you for the wonderful message! The support Batool has received after making her case public through media has given her so much energy and has inspired me as well.

Best,
Noorjahan

Cali gal Michelle's picture

First, let me apologize for

First, let me apologize for missing the opportunity to welcome you when you first joined the WP site. I was sure I had, but mis-remembered. Anyway, I am so glad you are here and for bringing such a story to this community.

What an amazingly strong woman, to stand for her and her child's rights in the face of such extreme challenges, heartache, and opposition. I can imagine her pounding against a brick wall that seemed impossible to break through. She was not thwarted by fear, and has now broken open a way for others to do the same. As more women follow her lead, this space in the wall will increase, making the way for even more to follow. It only takes one drop of water to start a flood.

Thank you for sharing this story, and providing a clear look into this important issue. You will find others here with similar stories and passions as yours. You will find women with differing stories and thoughts as well, which I find to be enriching in my own life. As you may already know, you can explore the 'Voices Rising' tab, find action opportunities and exchange resources. Your connections will broaden as you add others to your community. Please do not hesitate to ask for assistance or guidance as you explore WP.

Peace and Blessings to you!

Let us Hope together-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

Noorjahan Akbar's picture

Thank you!

Dear Michelle,

Thank you for the warm welcome.

I just joined and I am still adventuring with this great website. I am sure there are many things about it that I don't know yet. Thanks for the "Voice Raising" tap information.

Good to be connected to you.

Best,
Noorjahan

Lylinaguas's picture

Thank you for sharing

Thank you for sharing Batool's story. Many women in Afghanistan suffer the same fate as Batool but her strength and perseverance will certainly serve as an inspiration to them in fighting for their rights.

Best regards

Lylin

jolynnewhiting's picture

May Batool Succeed

I am impressed by Batool's bravery.

Only by standing up to each injustice can we begin to reshape society.

Thank you for sharing the story--and your bravery.

Jo Lynne

ddegarm's picture

Batool is an inspiration

In the midst of tragedy a woman finds her strength and is able to face the challenges confronting her. This is a wonderful and inspiring story illustrating the need for women to find their strength and their voice. Thank you for sharing it.

“Women have a special capacity to lead us to a more peaceful world with compassion, affection and kindness. And there is no more important time for that than this moment.” - Dalai Lama

amymorros's picture

Justice

Thank you for your insight into this true story. It is nice to know that sometimes justice prevails. Thank you again for sharing a compelling story that I think should be (but often is not) covered in the mainstream media.

Amy
@amyinstl

CoachMarcie's picture

Great Story

Thanks you so much for the beautiful story. You are truly a great story teller and writer.

Best,

Coach Marcie

Best,
Marcie

missjenn's picture

:)

Thank you, Noorjahan, for sharing this! That is very cool you personally know Batool. Her story is inspiring to so many people!

I love this part of your submission: "People and public figures that have been vocal on other cases of injustice towards women have silenced Batool’s case... It is very rare that a woman in Afghanistan would stand up against such a culturally-sensitive and taboo issue to regain her dignity and honor in her community and to provide her children with full-citizenship rights. It is even rarer for women to fight through the Afghan justice system and have some achievements."

This is so powerful and interesting at the same time. It never occurred to me that sometimes social norms are so strong, even human rights advocate won't fight for you. Batool sounds like a very strong women!

Thanks again for sharing this.

Kind regards,

Jennifer
World Pulse Online Community Coordinator

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