“No One Knows About My Abortion. I Feel Like a Criminal”

Tarana, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, is a 19-year-old woman living in Kabul, Afghanistan who recently divorced her husband and had an illegal abortion in secret. If authorities were to find out, she would either be fined or arrested.

Abortion is illegal in Afghanistan — even in cases of rape or incest — except if the mother’s life is in danger or there is a risk of the child being born with severe disabilities. The country’s birth rate is 4.8 children per woman, which is the highest in Asia (though is significantly lower than it was under Taliban rule, when girls weren’t allowed to attend school). Birth control is not illegal in the Muslim-majority country, though it is taboo and often difficult to access.

Tarana told her story in Dari through a translator to Maija Liuhto.

I was born during the last years of the Taliban rule. My family lived in Maidan Wardak, a province that is too dangerous to visit today. Taliban fighters are everywhere now. During those days, there was peace but women could not go to school or work. If a woman wanted to go outside, she had to wear a burka that covered her from head to toe and she had to be accompanied by a male chaperone.

Luckily, the Taliban regime fell when I was three. We moved to Kabul and I was able to start school.

Although my family was quite progressive when it came to women’s education, marrying someone of my own choice was out of question.

My family decided to marry me off when I was only 17 years old. The man was a 28-year-old uncle of a family friend. He wasn’t educated and was only a driver, whereas I had studied until the 12th grade. Our marriage ended up lasting only two years.

Read the entire story here.

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