Abandoned Afghani bride’s struggle against Indian army doctor inspires many women

One Afghani woman has had enough. And her story hasstruck a chord with many Indian woman who are now supporting herstruggle to hold accountable an Indian Army doctor who married and abandoned her in Kabul after three weeks of marriage. Major Pant eventually called her, after returning to India, to tell her he was already married and had two children.

ahmadzai.jpgTwenty-year-old Sabra Ahmadzai finished her final high school test in Afghanistan, took out a bank loan and then flew to India on the last day of November. She came to look for an Indian army doctor who she said had deceived, married and then abandoned her in Kabul, making her an object of shame and ridicule.

In India, Ahmadzai’s journey has become a rallying point for young women across college campuses who find in her a source of inspiration to question powerful hierarchies of traditional societies. The students in three universities in the capital are trying to set up a “Justice Committee for Sabra” by enlisting eminent lawyers, retired judges, professors and independent activists. [Washington Post](emphasis added).

She had been pressured by her family and community to marry Major Pant who had been stationed in the medical hospital in Kabul. He wastwice her age. Pant approached her family three times with marriage proposals. When her mother turned him away for not being Muslim, he returned with a priest who would convert him to Islam.

“I did not love him. He was my boss and twice my age. But the elders and the priest said, ‘We have given our word and cannot take it back,’ ” she recalled. “He had won their hearts by treating sick children of my relatives, too. They liked him. I followed their wishes obediently.” [Washington Post]

What’s strikingare the layers ofabuse that Ahmadzai is fighting against- from the marriage coerced by her community to a man twice her age, herbattle to hold accountable an Indian army doctor for his lies and manipulation, to the stigma imposedon her as an abandoned bride.Ahmadzai has responded to the stigma by confronting the doctor who manipulated her. I’d be curious to know how she feels about the pressuresfrom her own community, which journalists haven’t questioned her about. For now, Ahmadzaiis at leastconfronting the Indian army doctorto regain, or perhaps gain for the first time,power and control over her own life.

Then the taunts began. People in Kabul jeered at her. “If I spoke ill about him, it was like slapping my own face. So I kept quiet,” she said. “Women said that I was a stigma on earth and should take poison and die. The local boys harassed me and shouted that they are ready to marry me for 20 days, too. I decided to come to India to confront him.” [Washington Post]

This twenty year old woman’s strength has inspired many women activists in Delhi.

She pledged her uncle’s ancestral land for a bank loan, collected her savings and went to India with her mother. From New Delhi, she took a bus to meet Pant in the Himalayan town of Pithoragarh, where he is stationed.

Pant refused to accept her or divorce her, offering her money instead, she said. Enraged, Ahmadzai filed a police complaint. Overnight, her cause was adopted by local activist groups. A signature campaign began. Women and students waved placards and protested in support of her, and blocked traffic for five hours demanding that Pant be punished. Ahmadzai addressed the crowds. The city’s newspapers splashed her story on their front pages. Ahmadzai’s mother fell sick and returned to Kabul, but Ahmadzai came to New Delhi and met the home affairs minister and the National Commission for Women. [Washington Post]

It seems that Amadzai’s personal struggle has struck a chord with many women in India who are tired of prevailing power structures. Hopefully the activists can provide some local knowledgeand guideher throughthe Indianjudicial system.

“She is battling the power structures in both Afghanistan and India. She is an inspiration for all of us here,” said Sucheta De, 25, a geography student who is a counselor at the student union. “What we women regard as our personal struggle is often a political struggle against dominant social structures.” [Washington Post]

Despite her struggles, I think this tenacious woman has a pretty bright future ahead of her.

Ahmadzai now says that if her case drags on, she may try to enroll in an undergraduate course. “I do not know how long my struggle will go on,” she said. “At least I will have a degree while I wait for justice.” [Washington Post]

(edited 2/4/09)


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18 Responses to “Abandoned Afghani bride’s struggle against Indian army doctor inspires many women”

  1. Suki says:

    The sad thing that the same thing has happened to thoundsands of young punjabi sikh women who married a punjabi guy from the west only to be used and the left alone in foreign country with nobody to turn too.
    http://www.asianpacificpost.com/portal2/402881910

  2. Suki says:

    The sad thing that the same thing has happened to thoundsands of young punjabi sikh women who married a punjabi guy from the west only to be used and the left alone in foreign country with nobody to turn too.
    http://www.asianpacificpost.com/portal2/402881910674ebab010674f4efa615db.do.html

  3. Haridner says:

    WHy do these girls cry .

    They must go and marry some other guy rather than pining for a deserter ,liar and a coward guy like him.

    Had it been my daughter.

    I would have told her to go and get another man in her life.

    Their is no shortage of MEN esp in PUNJAB ( that many of us have bumped of our daughters).

  4. Haridner says:

    WHy do these girls cry .
    They must go and marry some other guy rather than pining for a deserter ,liar and a coward guy like him.
    Had it been my daughter.
    I would have told her to go and get another man in her life.
    Their is no shortage of MEN esp in PUNJAB ( that many of us have bumped of our daughters).

  5. Reema says:

    Haridner,

    You probably have some preconceived notions of what an 'abandoned bride' does/thinks/feels. Either that or you read NONE of the post (or both).

    Sabra is not crying.

    Sabra is not pining.

    And Sabra is probably tired of listening to what strangers think she should do- including what YOU would have told your daughter.

    Perhaps instead of telling your hypothetical daughter what to do, you should respect what SHE THINKS (presumably she's an adult in this hypothetical). Give a woman some agency, would you? Just try it out.

    What is inspiring about Sabra is that she's taking control of her own life, and fighting against community and social pressures.

  6. Reema says:

    Haridner,

    You probably have some preconceived notions of what an ‘abandoned bride’ does/thinks/feels. Either that or you read NONE of the post (or both).

    Sabra is not crying.

    Sabra is not pining.

    And Sabra is probably tired of listening to what strangers think she should do- including what YOU would have told your daughter.

    Perhaps instead of telling your hypothetical daughter what to do, you should respect what SHE THINKS (presumably she’s an adult in this hypothetical). Give a woman some agency, would you? Just try it out.

    What is inspiring about Sabra is that she’s taking control of her own life, and fighting against community and social pressures.

  7. Suki says:

    WHy do these girls cry .

    They must go and marry some other guy rather than pining for a deserter ,liar and a coward guy like him.

    Had it been my daughter.

    I would have told her to go and get another man in her life.

    Their is no shortage of MEN esp in PUNJAB ( that many of us have bumped of our daughters).

    These girls cry cause they come from a culture where women are to blame for everything. If man leaves her or even the women gets a divorce from an abusive marriage it is always the women fault.

  8. Suki says:

    WHy do these girls cry .
    They must go and marry some other guy rather than pining for a deserter ,liar and a coward guy like him.
    Had it been my daughter.
    I would have told her to go and get another man in her life.
    Their is no shortage of MEN esp in PUNJAB ( that many of us have bumped of our daughters).

    These girls cry cause they come from a culture where women are to blame for everything. If man leaves her or even the women gets a divorce from an abusive marriage it is always the women fault.

  9. KDS says:

    These girls cry cause they come from a culture where women are to blame for everything. If man leaves her or even the women gets a divorce from an abusive marriage it is always the women fault.

    Suki ji

    Which Culture are you pointing at .Entire Asian or Afghani culture

    which is Based on Islamic laws.Look at the News The priest also said "that we had given our words" How could priest Give his words?

    Btw major pant has done what thousands of Indian men do to have second wife and that is conversion to islam.Recently Dy chief of haryana has also done this.

  10. KDS says:

    These girls cry cause they come from a culture where women are to blame for everything. If man leaves her or even the women gets a divorce from an abusive marriage it is always the women fault.

    Suki ji

    Which Culture are you pointing at .Entire Asian or Afghani culture
    which is Based on Islamic laws.Look at the News The priest also said “that we had given our words” How could priest Give his words?

    Btw major pant has done what thousands of Indian men do to have second wife and that is conversion to islam.Recently Dy chief of haryana has also done this.

  11. Jaz Dosanjh says:

    The sad thing that the same thing has happened to thoundsands of young punjabi sikh women who married a punjabi guy from the west only to be used and the left alone in foreign country with nobody to turn too

    I don't know what country in the 'west' you live in Suki, but here in England the only cases I know about and ever hear about are about Punjabi Sikh girls from Punjab tricking and duping British born Sikh men. It is so common now that I think its scared most British Sikh families from even thinking about marrying a girl from Punjab.

  12. Jaz Dosanjh says:

    The sad thing that the same thing has happened to thoundsands of young punjabi sikh women who married a punjabi guy from the west only to be used and the left alone in foreign country with nobody to turn too

    I don’t know what country in the ‘west’ you live in Suki, but here in England the only cases I know about and ever hear about are about Punjabi Sikh girls from Punjab tricking and duping British born Sikh men. It is so common now that I think its scared most British Sikh families from even thinking about marrying a girl from Punjab.

  13. smone says:

    these guys should be put on alimony till the end of their lives..

  14. smone says:

    these guys should be put on alimony till the end of their lives..

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