Erica Isaac (Afghanistan)

Erica Issac (Afghan Women’s Network – AWN): Erica is a native New Yorker and passionate photographer. After graduating summa cum laude from New York University in 1998, Erica went on to complete her MSc. in Gender and Economic Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science with a specialization in women and children’s welfare. She then traveled and worked as a researcher on the media installations for the South African Jewish Museum in Cape Town and for a feature length documentary called “Crossing the Bride”. She also worked in India and Nepal as a program assistant at safe houses for Tibetan refugees, in Pakistan with an underground domestic violence organization, and in Uganda with a repatriation organization for child soldiers. At the time of her fellowship, Erica was studying for an MPA in International Policy and Management at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service.



Tashakor Khwahar

03 Jul

Wajhma is 20 years old and the mother of a nine-month-old son named Shuib. She married Omar Akhtari, the brother of a friend, when she was 18 and studying in Peshawar, Pakistan. Omar is educated, successful and has been living in Germany for the past nine years. Though their courtship was fast, Wajhma had turned down six previous marriage proposals, leading her parents to believe she saw a strong future with Omar. The couple was married in Peshawar and returned to Kabul to apply for Wajhma’s visa to Germany.

Wajhma’s visa application was written under a false name – Karishma Akhtari – and stated that their familial relationship was that of cousins. Omar told her it would be easier for her to obtain a visa if the German authorities believed they were blood relations rather than spouses. Though admittedly suspicious, Wajhma was excited about being married, looked forward to continuing her studies in Germany and chose to focus on the future. Her visa application was successful and they left for Germany a little more than a month after they were married.

Upon arriving in Germany Wajhma was introduced to Grenda Akhtari – Omar’s German wife of three years. Wajhma remained in Germany for one year during which she lived in servitude to Grenda and Omar. They both drank heavily and Omar regularly beat, tortured, sexually assaulted and prostituted Wajhma. She was not allowed to leave the house, was isolated from her family and was routinely deprived of food, water and access to basic health and hygiene.

Mr. Akhtari became afraid that Wajhma was preparing to run away so he smuggled her to Norway. He forced Wajhma to falsify a story for the Norwegian police in order to be granted immediate asylum status. This tactic was successful and Wajhma was granted entrance. She was taken to the home of Mr. Akhtari’s mother and sisters where the horrors of Germany were repeated. Within three months Wajhma found out that she was pregnant.

Mr. Akhtari sent Wajhma back to Afghanistan under the pretense that she should be with her family when the baby arrives. Before she left he stripped her of her passport (containing her Norwegian visa), all of her clothing and the few pieces of wedding jewelry in her possession. Days after Wajhma arrived in Kabul Mr. Akhtari telephoned and told her that he was terminating their relationship. He told her he wanted nothing to do with her. He told her he wanted nothing to do with her unborn child. He questioned if the child was his.

Wajhma was not willing to accept Mr. Akhtari’s decision to abandon the marriage without legal recourse, protection or support. Accordingly, she approached his family in Kabul and Peshawar. Along with her mother and sisters Wajhma began to receive death threats. Her sister was forced to stop attending school. Her mother could no longer go to the market unattended. One afternoon Mr. Akhtari’s sister attempted to abduct Wajhma and force her to have an abortion. Within three weeks of being abandoned by Omar Akhtari, Wajhma found out that he was in Afghanistan and had taken another wife, a woman from outside Kabul, and was in the process of obtaining her German visa.

* * *

Wajhma came to see me a few days ago to tell me her story. We sat across from each other and she spoke with the bravery, confidence and quiet dignity of a woman who has seen and felt a lifetime in a mere 20 years. We took turns holding Shuib as we sat in a combination of dense silence and urgent conversation. The details of her torture were far easier for her to recount than the enormity of her feelings.

She is worried that while her body will recover her heart may not. She is worried that while she has known marriage she will never know love. She is worried that even if she forgives herself her family may not. She is worried that if her story goes untold her pain will have no worth. She is worried that if she remains silent she will die in the darkness of memories.

Our legal team is helping with her divorce case. If successful, it will be one of landmark status. While the chances of legal success are dismal, the impact of her story is certain. As her advocate I am granted the blissful honor of wearing her courage, speaking her words, representing her future and guarding her history.

We finished talking and walked around the table towards each other. As I handed Shuib back to her tears rolled down both of our faces. She looked at her son and asked me how she could repay him for saving her life. I told her to love him without conditions and raise him to be a man of honor. She held my shoulders in her hands and whispered tashakor khwahar, thank you sister.

Posted By Erica Isaac (Afghanistan)

Posted Jul 3rd, 2006

255 Comments

  • zulmai

    November 15, 2007

     

    Dear Wazhma ,

    Your a strong humien , and i believe you had gone through enough , i cannot belieive that people like Akhtari exist in this world and we as an afghan , as a civilised people of this planet let this kind of people like akhtari to do what ever they want , The German Authorities in Germany should have to take an urgent action against him, or if not my advise to the legat team of wazhma would be to file an urgent petation on humien rights for wazhma against her x husband and the German Authrities should cancel all his legal immigration documents and deport him immiadiately. This should be a lesson learned to all those who play games with innocent and poor girls like Wazhma.

  • Liala

    November 16, 2007

     

    Dear Wazhma
    there is no reason to believe that ur not brave ,,,, ur absloutely a brave girl , and indeed i am quite agree with mr. Zulmai that ur legal team should diffinately file a apetation against Akhtari , i am quite concerned about that guy , that he should diffinately be behind bars after what he did with you
    he is cruel and bastard. and as Mr. Zulmay this should be something lesson learned for all those who are even thinking about commiting such an act.

    Best wishes will be always there for you .

  • Mariam

    December 12, 2007

     

    Dearest Washma jan
    Indeed it is a greatest sign of bravery, we as a female suffer a lot at the hands of these so called men of the world.I am all with you, and being in germany i will take action against this guy here. I am trying to contact you for the details of this guy.Secondly please file a petition against this fool and unjust man to give him his reward.May he see all bad here and in the world after Ameen.

  • SYED SHAH SAUD

    January 10, 2008

     

    SALAM WAJIHA,
    DONT WARRY LIFE IS V SHORT AND HE WILL GET WHAT HE IS DOING?

    WHERE ARE YOU STAYING NOW, I AM FROM PESHAWAR AND WORKING IN KUWAIT. IF U NEED ANY KIND OF HELP LET ME KNOW.

    SYED SAUD

  • bahar

    February 25, 2008

     

    that is not good,, everything which he did, I want gladly to help you, if you have the possibility, write me.

  • Havi

    April 10, 2008

     

    What was omars family doing in Peshawar? Kabul is fine? But Peshawar? Afghan murderers in our city Peshawar? This is sick…

    What were they doing here? Killing Pakistanis and celebrating bombings like others here i am sure. For a better future for Pakistan we need to stop this. Crime rate went up 40% when we accepted afghan refugees. Peshawar was devastated just bcauz our leaders wanted to help them thining of them as fellow muslims despite fact they hate us & bring idiotic ideas like pashtunistan and balochistan & want to destroy us. Why u Afghans come here? U are mostly murderers. Why u guys can’t keep killing yourselves in name of tajek hazara uzbek pashtun and why u bring ur chaotic mindset here? Leave us alone and stop killing our people. We arrested 4 bombers this month but we can’t take an entire terrorist population.

    I feel sorry f4 that wajhma chick but afghan hatred of Pakistan is cauzing enough problems for us. If he could do it with an afghan girl he cud as easily have picked a pakistani…

  • Havi

    April 10, 2008

     

    I feel sorry for the girl but we can’t have this in our cities sorry. Furthermore i have never seen an afghan saying anything nice but only swearing at our country that has paid in blood and suffered constantly for it.

    Anyway as a human i will help the girl though helping afghans has always been a disaster for us. My e-mail adress is with the site and I can be contacted if needed. If their is any legal process within Pakistan then lemme know. I have some power in the government so yaaaa…

  • reema

    June 3, 2008

     

    There is nothing I can say to describe the courage within you.You are,by far,one of the most patient,brave,forgiving individuals that I have ever known of.I hope you find justice,and good luck saving the other girl before she becomes a victim.
    All my prayers be with you,reema.

  • muhammad fayaz

    September 10, 2009

     

    dear wajma assalam olakummy name is is muhammad fayaz & i m from peshawar & live in peshawar
    DONT WARRY LIFE IS V SHORT AND HE WILL GET WHAT HE IS DOING?WHERE ARE YOU STAYING NOWIF U NEED ANY KIND OF HELP LET ME KNOW.that is not good,, everything which he did, I want gladly to help you, if you have the possibility, write me. Germany should have to take an urgent action against him, or if not my advise to the legat team of wazhma would be to file an urgent petation on humien rights for wazhma against her x husband and the German Authrities should cancel all his legal immigration documents and deport him immiadiately. This should be a lesson learned to all those who play games with innocent and poor girls like Wazhma. wassalam best wisshess. god bless u

  • Mens Sunglasses

    May 13, 2011

     

    It’s important to take responsibilities, because no one else is going to do it for you.

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