Sunday, July 31, 2011

Love and Marriage in Afghanistan

We will discuss kinship and marriage in class today, so I thought it only appropriate to share this tragic love story that is making the rounds these days. Two Afghan teens who are members of different ethnic groups are currently sitting in jail in Herat for inciting a riot because of their unsanctioned relationship.
This month, a group of men spotted the couple riding together in a car, yanked them into the road and began to interrogate the boy and girl. Why were they together? What right had they? An angry crowd of 300 surged around them, calling them adulterers and demanding that they be stoned to death or hanged.

When security forces swooped in and rescued the couple, the mob’s anger exploded. They overwhelmed the local police, set fire to cars, and stormed a police station 6 miles from the center of Herat, raising questions about the strength of law in a corner of western Afghanistan and in one of the first cities that has made the formal transition to Afghan-led security.

The riot, which lasted for hours, ended with one man dead, a police station charred, and the two teens, Halima Mohammedi and her boyfriend, Rafi Mohammed, confined to juvenile prison. Officially, their fates lie in the hands of an unsteady legal system. But they face harsher judgments of family and community.

Mohammedi’s uncle visited her in jail to say she had shamed the family and promised that they would kill her once she was released. Her father, an illiterate laborer who works in Iran, sorrowfully concurred. He cried during two visits to the jail, saying almost nothing to his daughter.

“What we would ask is that the government should kill both of them,’’ said the father, Kher Mohammed.
Sadly, this story has it "all" - issues of ethnicity (Pashtun and Tajik), gender roles (honor killings, women's rights), marriage traditions (arranged marriage, endogamy), religion (sharia and Taliban), kinship, as well as ethnocentrism (how we react to the story based on our conceptions of love and our stories such as Romeo and Juliet).

Read it HERE.

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