Honor killings, the truly horrific practice of slaughtering girls in the name of preserving a family’s honor, seem to keep popping up the headlines. Although some Western-based parents are serving time for murdering their daughters, other young ladies lands away will find no such legal protection and must turn to alternative ways to ensure their safety from their families. Lina is such a young girl who, after being caught with a cell phone, was beaten by her brothers and told that she would be executed after dinner.
NPR reports that her brothers insisted that she was talking with a boy, which would tarnish the family name. They instructed her to eat her “last meal.” A family relative had been sexually and physically abusing Lina, another reason her brothers might have been incentivized to murder her given the tremendous “dishonor” of being sexually assaulted. The young lady persevered though and did what few women and girls in her community would do. She fled on her own:
“I was terrified to think of running away from home, but suddenly a voice from inside told me to flee before my brothers killed me. Maybe the devil made me do it,” says Lina. “I took one of their cloaks and wrapped it around me to look like a man. Then I slipped out of the house and started walking to the foreigner’s base nearby.”
Those at a nearby US base saw Lina approaching and took her in, and aside from protection, she also enjoyed such luxuries as ice cream, Doritos, TV, hot running water, and her first encounter with books. Marine Maj. Jennifer Larsen describes Lina as a “strong person” and “very bright.” To keep things copacetic with the community, the US base was faced with eventually releasing Lina to her family. But even after her family came to reclaim her, promising not to kill her and grant her her choice in husbands (how generous!), the sharp girl refused sensing that she was being lied to.
US officials eventually had the girl flown to a much larger city, with a rare nod from Afghan officials. The young woman was placed in a women’s shelter for nearly a year before going to court for help. The female Afghan judge suggested a man who needed a wife and after a meeting and discussion, Lina agreed to the marriage. She is currently expecting her first baby, a prospect that makes her very happy:
“I have everything I ever dreamed of,” Lina says. “I live with a big family, and they all love me very much.”
Although Lina has found security and happiness with her husband, marriage is often only the beginning of more abuse for many young girls in her exact situation. Her unique circumstances have finally given her a chance at family and love, but few girls who marry for escape can expect such odds. It nearly goes without saying that Linda is a tremendously brave young girl, but her story demonstrates her profound luck as well.