No burqa behind bars

Tonight, Belgian tv channel canvas will be broadcasting the documentary ‘No burqa behind bars’ by filmmaker Nima Sarvestani. It tells the shocking tales of a few women in Takhar Prison in Afghanistan and will teach you more about the so called ‘moral crimes’ of which these women are accused off.

Human Rights Watch did an incredible report on the same topic called ‘I had to run away’ , that inspired me to work on this while I was in Afghanistan myself and I would urge you to read it if you find the time.

I ended up visiting some women in the female prison of Faizabad, in the North-Eastern province of Badakshan, that are convicted for running away from their husbands.

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

I had heard about this woman, with a one month old baby that was jailed there, and she told me she ran away from her husband because he didn’t recognize and accepted the baby as his straight after birth. It means he accuses his wife of adultery (zina or sex outside marriage) which is one of the worst crimes in a country like Afghanistan. She knew that from the moment he didn’t accept their child, her death sentence was voiced. She couldn’t do anything else but run away. It’s exactly this running away that made her end up in prison.

Conditions in the jails are not good, but often the women there feel more safe and secure then at home with violent husbands and family in laws that abuse and beat them. They receive 3 meals a day and get medical treatment when needed.

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

© Wendy Marijnissen

Several hundred children in Afghanistan live in prisons with their mothers. Even though some serious efforts are done in some facilities to provide education for  the children and vocational programs for the women in the prisons, most lack a chance to any proper education…

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