google36091df1dc448a68.html A newly wed woman brutally tortured by husband and his father
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A newly wed woman brutally tortured by husband and his father

Assad Sharifi

Disclaimer: This story contains disturbing images, please read at your own discretion.


Faryab, Afghanistan

Lael Bibi at her Hospital bed. Photo by Nanjib Pasoon, Mazar e Sharif, Afghanistan

A year ago, at the tender age of 17, she was married off to a young man by her father. This was not an ordinary marriage, however. Lael BiBi was exchanged with another young woman her age. She was married off to the other woman’s brother, while the other woman was married off to Lael BiBi’s brother.

Exchanging women is a normal practice in traditional Pashtun households. It is mostly done by poor families, who cannot pay the hefty dowry required by the bride’s family.

After the marriage, Lael BiBi was not visited by her father nor by any other relatives for one full year. After a year, the father received a phone call from Lael BiBi’s in-laws. They informed him that Lael BiBi was very sick and they needed to come immediately to see her.


As Lael BiBi’s father and uncle arrived to the house of her in-laws, they saw her bed ridden and her legs wrapped in dirty cloth. Lael BiBi’s father and uncle demanded to take her with them, so they can take her to the hospital.


The in-laws disagreed and said, “She needs to be taken to a local medicine man or perhaps a Mullah for a potion and we will do that,” said Lael BiBi’s father standing by her hospital bedside in the city of Mazar e Sharif.


“They (Lael BiBi’s in-laws) told us that she either had HIV-AIDS or cancer,” her father continued. “But we did not believe their story”, he exclaimed.


After some harsh arguments, Lael BiBi’s father and uncle were able to take her with them. After a thorough examination at the hospital, it was determined that she had been brutaly beaten.


Once Lael BiBi felt safe and away from the hell she was in, she broke her silence and told the heartbreaking ordeal of her yearlong punishment by the hands of her husband and his father.

“They would tie me up, beat me, splash boiling water at me, and burned me with hot Kebab skewers, without any reason” Lael BiBi declared in quivering voice.


As tears streaked down her pale cheeks and she cried in painful agony, Lael Bibi’s father leaned over her and uttered something under his breath. She gazed up towards the ceiling, exhaled a cold sigh, and closed her tired eyes.


Now, Lael BiBi is all bandaged, wrapped in blankets, and an IV tube is feeding her narrow arteries. She is expected to recover from her brutal lacerations, cuts, and bruises. But her psychological traumas will haunt her for the rest of her life.


Her fate is still not known, however. In the traditional Pashtun relationships; a woman is a property of her husband, only death will take her back to her parental cemetery for burial. But for now, she has to get healed, and being from a poor family, she needs support. She will remain hospitalized for over a month.

Information and photo about this story are provided by Nab Pasoon. Symposium Media is grateful to Mr. Pasoon's journalistic integrity.

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