Amina is a young woman who was forced to drop out of school and get married when she was 15. During the next four years, she gave birth to a daughter and miscarried twice due to heavy lifting. She was divorced for not giving birth to a son. Two years later, she had just returned to school when two drug addict men raped her. She went to jail, was tortured by the police, and assaulted by the doctors. The police and local people forced her to marry the rapist and addicted man. After living with him for eight years and giving birth to two sons, she became a widow and the breadwinner for her children.
Child Marriage and Forced Divorce
Amina got married when she was 15. She was 16 when she became the mother of a daughter. Her husband’s family used to blame her for giving birth to a girl. Because Amina’s father-in-law was the only son in his family and he also had one son and five daughters.
Three years passed since Amina’s marriage and she did not give birth to a son. In these three years, she had two abortions. In both times, she aborted because she brought home heavy loads of grass and firewood.
Amina’s husband, Ayub, was the only son in his family and his parents helped him to remarry. They took Amina’s three-year-old daughter and threw herself out of the house.
The villagers’ view of Amina had changed, calling her a Divorced Woman. But Amina missed her daughter and thought about her day and night. To forget her sadness, she would sit under the shade of trees, at the foot of the wall, etc, embroidering, crooning, and crying alone.
Amina lived two years with her parents and refused to remarry despite her father’s insistence. She went to school and resumed her studies from the grade she had left off. Before marriage, she had studied up to sixth grade in a literacy program, but her father had not allowed her to continue her studies in public school.
As she resumed her studies, the social pressure and the pain of missing her daughter decreased. But this was just a glimmer of hope that vanished overnight.
Amina and her teenage brother had gone to their father’s summer house, next to the farm, to collect almond crops. Their parents returned home at night. Amina and her brother stayed in the summer house to peel almonds during the night and to return to the farm early in the morning to collect more almonds.
In the middle of the night, two young drug-addicted men, known for banditry and theft in the village, attacked the house and gang-raped Amina after tying up her brother.
I saw Amina in a slum neighborhood of the city. For making a living, she sometimes embroiders, or cleans other people’s houses, and sometimes cleans raisins for the shopkeepers.
She had wrapped her chador around her head and face and was sitting under direct sunlight. While stripping on the ground with one hand, she squeezed her eyes blow by blow and recounted the bitter memories of that, saying: this is not a memory, it is a nightmare that is still hard for me to believe.
Being Raped and Accused
It was late at night and I woke up due to the roar of a motorcycle. I thought there might be a passenger who had stopped there for morning prayer, but someone knocked on the door. I woke up my brother to open the door. He was sleepy and loitered. As the door was being slammed quite hastily, I flustered and ran towards the door. Hurriedly, I opened the door and two men, with lights in their hands, entered the house. They closed the door behind them.
“Who are you and what do you want?” I asked. But none of them responded and forcibly took me inside. My brother woke up because of my clamor, but they immediately tied up his hands and eyes with their neckerchiefs and took him to the kitchen.
They turned off their lights. I was shouting louder and louder, but they tied up my mouth and removed my clothes. Everywhere was fully dark and my whole body ached. The men smelled grog. I screamed a lot, but my mouth was tied up and no one could hear me. When I got tired of screaming, I closed my eyes and, while weeping, waited for the torture to end soon.
When I opened my eyes, it was twilight. I could hear noises outside around the house. The neighbors living on the hill in front of our house had come down. I put on my clothes and ran towards the kitchen. I untied my brother’s hands and eyes. We both went out.
The villagers had noticed that two men had invaded our house and had come down to surround the house. They had arrested the rapists. Unquestioningly, one of the villagers attacked me too and kicked me hard in the stomach, saying, “Shame on you, shameful woman, you’re leaving the house again!” He also slapped me in the face several times.
For a moment, I did not understand what was happening. The man’s kick and slaps had redoubled my pain. He pushed me back into the house and punched and kicked my brother too, calling him nerveless.
Arrested by the villagers, the rapists had told them that they did not come there by force, but they had an appointment with Amina. This is how they had acquitted themselves and passed the blame on me.
The villagers had called the police and the police department had told them that they would come in the morning. The sun rose from behind the village mountains and two police Rangers arrived. I was thinking about my parents and what they would think about me. Would they, like the villagers, judge me as guilty or believe that I was raped? I didn’t know. My brother was a witness.
Tortured by the Police and Assaulted by the Doctor
When the police arrived, they threw me, my brother, and both the rapists into the Ranger and took us to the provincial capital. I arrived at the provincial capital with dirt on my body and clothes which were torn in the dark night. The police transferred me to the women’s prison, and my brother and the two rapists to the men’s prison.
About four days passed. In the women’s prison, I was among many other women who had been imprisoned for extramarital sex and theft. My father had hired an advocate for me and my brother without coming to see me in the prison. After the investigation, the prosecutor released my brother and one of the rapists. But I and the other rapist were accused of extramarital sex and kept in prison.
The investigator was a male police officer. He used to beat me with a water pipe that looked like a whip, saying: “Admit that you committed adultery and you were not raped”, but I was crying, saying that I was victimized, I was raped. But he continued to torture and whip… I was unable to forget the worst experience of my life and tell something else that the investigator wanted to hear. Finally, they took me to a hospital for a medical examination. The male doctor inserted his fingernail in my vulva, asked a few questions about the rape scene, and then told the police, “Yes, she had sex.”
Under the police torture, one of the rapists had said that he had sex with the consent of both parties. It caused the other rapist to be released and he himself became the main party in the case; A young man who was younger than me. In the end, he was also released from prison, but on the condition that he would marry me. Under the supervision of the police and the local people, we got married -to my rapist- and were both released from prison.
The family of the rapist boy did not accept Amina as a bride. She was also discarded by her own family. The night she went to her second husband’s house, her old mother-in-law forced her to stay outside the house. Because she believed that a woman who has sex before marriage “is filthy, and the place where she sits must be washed fifteen times.”
Agreed this relationship under psychological pressure and to save herself from the police torture, Amina could not think of any other way. That night, she slept, without food or quilt, on the roof of the house with the man who was now her lawful husband.
I Wanted to Escape the Judgment of the Villagers and Get Lost in the Hustle of the City
The next day, Amina’s husband sold his only personal asset, a motorcycle, and they both left for the city. Amina thought that in the city, she might get lost in the crowd and be saved from the mental pressure caused by the villager’s words and judgments. She also hoped that in the city, she could also find a way to escape from the clutch of the rapist, her husband.
In a crowded city, they rented a house and started living; And indeed, they got lost among many different families with different customs, none of whom knew each other. Amina was kept out of the words of the villagers, the rebukes of her mother-in-law, and the hatred of her own parents. But how would she come to terms with the hateful man who, every night, refreshed her unspeakable memory of gang rape in the village? It needed time.
Her husband continued to use drugs. During the day, he used to go to work and returned home at night. After a while, Amina realized that she was pregnant, meaning that she was supposed to live with that rapist and addicted man for many more years. One year, two years, and finally eight years passed like this. In eight years, Amina gave birth to two sons from her rapist.
But she still longs to see her daughter. Now a teenager, her daughter does not answer her mother’s phone calls because, like everyone else in the village, she thinks that her mother has not been a good woman.
Amina’s husband disappeared after eight years. He might have died like thousands of other addicts. Or he might have gone to another city for work and not wanted to return home. No one knows.
Suffering from poverty and hunger, she went to the mullah of the neighborhood mosque to request a divorce in absentia, because it was two years since her husband had disappeared.
The Only One Who Knows the Truth
Among her family members, Amina is only in contact with one of her brothers; the one who witnessed the rape scene and believes that Amina is the victim of a crime and violence. The rest of her family members and of her husband’s family have no relationship with Amina. During these years, none of them, including her mother, has talked to Amina.
After being released from prison, Amina’s brother went to Iran to escape the indignity and insult by the villagers and never returned. He sometimes calls Amina and sends money to her and her children during their difficult times. Now, Amina is an independent woman and the breadwinner for her children, who were born as a result of a forced marriage with a rapist man. She works as a cleaning woman to provide living expenses and school fees for her sons.