I Am For Sale, Who Will Buy Me?

(Eds Note: This is only the second anonymous piece we have run on the blog. We encourage our participants to claim their own stories, but in this case, the writer felt she could only safely share this if she did so anonymously.)

I used to think big. When I was six, I made my mom let me go to school, and I loved it. My father told me: “If you stay at the top of your class until the end of your studies, I will do two things for you. First, I will let you go abroad to continue your education. Secondly, I will buy you a car and let you drive.” With the encouragement of my father, I was a superstar in my classes. He was my first English teacher and he always called me “my scholar daughter.”

During the Taliban’s black government, my brothers could go to school, but I couldn’t. My father bought me school supplies, though, and told me: “Be patient. One day you will finish your studies.” He was right. I waited five years, but after that, I could go to school.

When I was in ninth grade, I earned my first money from teaching English. It was only 200 Afs, but I was excited. I gave my salary to my father. He kissed me and laughed and told me, “Dear, keep your salary for yourself. I don’t need it.” I said, “Dad, it is for you.” He smiled and told me, “It is just the cost of ink for your shoes,” and he gave me another 1000 Afs. He was my supporter in all aspects.
When I was sixteen years old, one of my neighbors came to our house and proposed that his son marry me. My father was angry and told him: “Do you know my daughter is sixteen? It is time for her to study. If the king comes and knocks at the door of my house and proposes that my daughter marry his son, I won’t accept it. Please, leave my house and never come back again.”

I was in my last days of school when my father died. When I lost him, I lost my shadow, but he left me with his words and advice and books. After his death, our economic situation was bad. Mom’s salary was the equivalent of $25, which was not enough. I began teaching classes in a private school. Half my salary was for my studies and half went for house expenses. During these years, I was the poorest student in my class. I spent days without breakfast or lunch, but I felt happy for my education. During the last four years, I received a number of marriage proposals but I rejected them all. Most wanted me to stop my studies and never work outside the home.

After my father died, the responsibility for me fell to my brothers, who grew up under the Taliban government and were influenced by it. Now I live with three Talibs and I must obey what they say. I am not like a girl in the house, but a slave. When I was at third year at the university, the owner of our house demanded higher rent. My family decided they would leave Kabul and go to a province where housing was cheaper. But I didn’t know how I would continue my studies in that case, so I gave up my transportation money to help pay for our rent, and I go to the university on foot.

Still, at the beginning of this year, my brothers said: “It is time for you to marry.” They arranged a marriage to my first cousin, my mom’s brother’s son, who lives in a province where most of the people are Talib. My cousin is about 40 years old and uneducated. His family has a business and a big house. Their women are required to wear burqas and are responsible for cooking, cleaning and caring for the animals. Most have eight or nine children. They can’t go outside the house—even when they are sick, they aren’t allowed to go to the doctor. My uncle’s money gives him power despite the fact that he is uneducated.

My family thinks I am tired of working so hard, and that my uncle’s money will convince me to accept this golden bracelet. My uncle told my family he would pay them $20,000, and this money might possibly keep my family alive. At the same time, I am thinking about graduating, seeking my masters’ degree and a PhD, getting a better job, making an independent life, standing on my own feet. I told my mom: “Please give me a chance. I don’t like this man. I can’t marry him. If you want to sell me, then I am ready to buy myself. I have a plan for my life. Please give me a chance, please, please.” She didn’t reply, but cried silently with me. I told her: “If my father were here, he would bring a revolution in this house.”

None of my close friends know what is happening with me. Once one of my classmates came to my house and she was carrying her notebook. I study in secret. When my family saw her notebook, they behaved badly toward her and told her not to come again.

These days I am thinking of possible solutions: how to get another job, earn at least $1,000 a month in salary. Running away is not an option because girls who run away here are raped by men and spend years in jail, and I am not such a girl. I can’t leave my mom because my brothers believe anything “wrong” I do is the fault of my mother, and they will kill her. My brothers think a girl who has a bank account or a mobile phone is a prostitute. I hide my phone and keep it on silent mode when I’m home.
I have two months to find a solution. If I fail, I have to accept this marriage, and I will accept it because of my mom, but I can’t live in such a situation. How can I live with such a man, or accept such failure? I think if this happens, I won’t stay in this world; I will leave the world for those who can live in it, who can find a solution.

What I write here are the wounded and torn pieces of my heart and the secrets an Afghan girl suffers.
I am like a piece of cloth. I cost little. Who will buy me?

By Anonymous

83 responses to “I Am For Sale, Who Will Buy Me?

  1. This is terrible. Please let me know if I can be a help, send your Cv to me, please! Let me talk to some people and see if I can help you out.

  2. I feel so incredibly sad reading your story and so pitifully powerless as I respond from a world away. I do believe, however, that this courageous act of sharing your story can make good things happen. Maya Angelou, a wonderful writer, has said “a single dream can transform a thousand realities.” I hope your dream of finishing your education and preserving your independence comes true.

  3. It hurts to even read your story…this is not how God would have wanted his daughters to be treated…what is wrong with men?…have they completely lost it… I wish I could help in some way….I don’t know anyone in Afghanistan…. If I did I would help…but know that you are in my prayers…

  4. This is a heartbreaking story. I am going to talk to people and see what I can do from here. Don’t give up hope. We are listening.

  5. You are a brave and amazing woman. Follow your dream…even if it means leaving your family behind. It’s what your father would want for you. Help him to make that revolution! As a mother, I would happily give my life for my child and never want her to feel guilty about it. Good luck to you. Keep thinking big.

  6. This is horrifying. We in the west have no idea how lucky we are to have choices and live in a culture where education is for everyone. I wish I could do something. If I were rich, I’d support this family!

  7. This piece has torn my heart. Please let us know, here in the West, if there is anything we can do. Please keep your courage. Please do what you must to keep your father’s dream alive for you. Please know that all who read this are cradling you in their arms.

  8. I posted your story on my Facebook site in hopes of finding people with contacts in Afghanistan who can help you. Am also trying to reach out to others who may have connections.

  9. I am so angry and sad for you, and I send you strength — strength to find a solution to this dilemma. Thank you for sharing your story.

  10. We will help spread the word. What will help? Money? I will start fundraising today if that can buy you some freedom. A job or master´s degree somewhere else? Please let us know what might be done — however unrealistic it sounds — and we will try to make it happen. Women (and men) all over the world reading this will want to help.

  11. I am furious on your behalf, and on your mother’s. I’m making sure this gets read by everyone I know, and by everyone they know. I want to think about a way to help.

  12. My heart goes out to you. Your story is exemplary to the struggle and plight of the innocent hearts and minds of your country.

    I have moved this to all I know to help illuminate the caring minds that may find a means of assistance.

    Please keep us posted!

  13. What can we do to help her leave safely? Has a fund been established toward that end?

  14. I am heartbroken by your words and feel your despair. But you must know you are not alone. We are all here rallying for you, and I feel confident that we will figure out a way to help. Take care.

  15. I also would commit to send you some money immediately if that would help. email me lizzard@bookmaniac.org

  16. Suzanne Scsarfone

    Dear Heroine Anonymous,

    My heart is with you, my soul is with you, my determination is with you, my alliance with other women is with you. Instead of grieving, we will, together ,figure out steps you can take. We must fight this cultural oppression with a plan that takes into consideration the culture from which the agony arises. Know we are all thinking of what can be done.

  17. Suzanne Scarfone

    Dear Heroine Anonymous,

    My heart is with you, my soul is with you, my determination is with you, my alliance with other women is with you. Instead of grieving, we will, together ,figure out steps you can take. We must fight this cultural oppression with a plan that takes into consideration the culture from which the agony arises. Know we are all thinking of what can be done.

  18. My heart breaks to read your words, your story. Please find the strength inside to go on. Know in your heart that many will find ways of assisting you in any way they can. May the answers come swiftly and the next step in your journey bring happiness.

  19. Please don’t give up. Because you have written to the world you will receive an answer to your prayer for freedom. A rescuer, in the form of money or a job, or safe travel to other country will come. I will post your story on Buzz magazine’s site, http://www.Buzznews.net. My father was my hope and inspiration too. He never wanted me to marry until I had my own career and had given my talents to the world. Praying for miracles for you and your mom’s safe release from this horrible situation.

  20. Hello. We do not know each other but please keep in your heart that you are in my thoughts and prayers and I will support you in any way that I can. I will be posting your anonymous plight to my blog and to my Facebook page. I am so sorry that you are in this situation.

  21. Dear Anonymous,

    My heart with you. Your’s a dark and desperate story and unfortunately too familiar for me! Hagar has worked with thousands of women in places like Afghanistan and Cambodia in complex human rights situations. They have gone on to fullfill the kind dreams your father nurtured in you.

    Drop me an email and I will provide some contacts of staff (indicate what is your language preference or if you’d rather speak to an expatriate) in country that can discuss options for you and your mother. These are courageous, competent women like yourself in Afghanistan experienced with your situation. They understand the cultural, legal, security and family challenges you face.

    Getting out of your situation is a difficult and long journey. It is not easy but better than the options before you. Our organization is named after one of Islam’s most famous and courageous women, Hagar, whose own journey from an abusive situation led to a great future. I hope you know well the story of Hagar and Ishmeal and can draw courage from it.

    With my deepest respect and prayers,

    talmage.payne@hagarinternational.org

  22. If the world cannot help you as you have reached out so, I will know that I don’t understand the world.

    Bless you for your courage to share this.

  23. Just adding my voice to the chorus here. I have money. I’m willing to send it, if there is any way.

    To the anonymous poster: You are a beautiful, brave and amazing woman. You’re in my prayers.

  24. To the site’s webmaster and the author of this essay:

    How might we get in touch with Heroine Anonymous (as Suzanne Scarfone has dubbed the author)? I would like to add my voice to those willing to do something. Kansas State University (where I am a Professor of English) currently has an arrangement with some universities in Afghanistan. Perhaps there might be a way to reach Heroine Anonymous through one of those universities?

    I do not know in which field or fields she seeks an M.A. or a Ph.D. We offer an M.A. (but not the Ph.D.) in English here at Kansas State University. Though I am not the department’s Director of Graduate Studies, I do read applications for our graduate studies in English. We would be pleased to receive Heroine Anonymous’ application.

    I’ve included my email and website. The site’s webmaster and author should feel free to contact me.

    Sincerely yours,

    Philip Nel
    Professor
    Director, Program in Children’s Literature
    Dept. of English, 103 ECS Bldg.
    Kansas State University
    Manhattan, KS 66506-6501
    U.S.A.
    http://www.ksu.edu/english/nelp
    philnel@ksu.edu

  25. Anonymous:

    You have been heard, and your words have touched me. I wish I had money to send to you, but I don’t… instead I will send you my hopes, and my prayers, and my good thoughts. Please keep us updated about your situation.

    Good luck with your studies.

  26. Someone needs to set up a fund so we can send money. Imagine if even just ONE of us sends a dollar a month…with the way this is spreading, I bet she’d have enough, and I know most of us would send even more than just $1.

    someone please set up a fund or tell us where we can send what we can!

  27. Your bravery and strength is truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

    And if there is going to be a fund to help, please let me know.

  28. I am praying for a solution and your salvation to my Heavenly Father. Have Faith and Believe.

  29. I’d like to help you in whatever way I can. I will share your story with as many people as I can. Email me at joamette@hotmail.com to let me know how to send money. An account with http://www.paypal.com/ might be a good idea if you don’t have one already.

  30. Sad…

    Even sadder considering the fact that I know so many other women in person who have this terrible faith.

    Sometimes, I feel ashamed to be an Afghan.

    • There is no shame in being born into a place of cruelty as long as you refuse to be a part of it. Hold your head high as long as you do what you know is right.

  31. I am a mother, too, and I would rather support my daughter in leaving the country to escape this madness and finding an education and a different life, even if it meant my own death, than I would see my daughter die. There is nothing worse for a mother than to see her child die, especially if the death was not necessary. Your mother will be more hurt by your death than anything else you could do. Please, for her and for yourself, escape. There are places and people with whom you can find sanctuary.

  32. I will, if my price is right and you're who you say!

    Traumatic things are hell. I would not wish them on anyone.. But you must let me know that what you’re saying is not a game… Meaning convince me….and you will have your wish!!! If you don’t you won’t from me…

  33. Wow, what a story. I wouldn’t dare put my own adjectives to it.

    All I can say is that this is writing that really matters.

  34. Gloria Nixon-John

    You are worth so much in so many ways! Never forget this truth. I have two daughters, one is married and the other is not. The unmarried daughter has a career, her own house, and is educated. She feels pressure to marry, but I will tell her your story and she will see how very lucky she is to have a choice in life. I feel certain that someone is going to find a way to help you. On another note, I am very impressed with your craft of writing as I know this is not your first language. I only wish I could write as well in my second language (Italian). Be well. Know that we are all thinking about you, hoping for a better life for you.

  35. Heroine Anonymous
    You are incredibly brave, it took a lot of courage for you to post your story. I will also link to your post on my blog. My thoughts and prayers are with you, please don’t give up!

  36. The plight of women under fundamental Islamic rule is truly shameful and a human rights violation. Unfortunately, too many people in the US continue to forget that the freedom we enjoy today was won and maintained by the bayonet, sword and rifle. A major reason why we are hated by the Fundamentalist Islamic world is not for our support of Israel, but for our core values like equality for all and freedom of religion. These are anathema to a Theocratic regime that is stuck in the Middle Ages. While we should be thankful for the freedoms that we are blessed with, should we not also take a strong stand to make available our core values to others who might choose to benefit from the same freedoms? Are basic equal rights for women only the purview of wealthy, Western women and not worth the price to expand to other parts of the world? Is the writer of this article worth fighting for or should we just send a check somewhere and feel good that we could empathize with her situation?

  37. I am so frustrated right now. tell me how I can help you please.

  38. If money is stopping your dreams for a reality, I have some to send to you. If you end up working with an organization, let me know. I’ll send money to them.

    WriteChick@gmail.com

  39. Dear Anonymous
    Be strong. There are many of us out here waiting and wanting to help you and other Afghan women like you. We are here, have hope. People are listening.

  40. I would like to offer money as well. Please let us know through AWWP how to provide it.

    Thank you for your story.

  41. Dear AWWP: would you please consider automating the donation process to some extent, perhaps just via a Paypal account or through Kickstarter? I understand that the donations have to be handled without revealing the author’s name, but a little more transparency would be a comfort, and I think that making donating as easy as possible goes a long way towards encouraging as much as possible. Also, I hope someone is following up on Philip Nel’s comment?

  42. my heart poors out to you, pray istihara, we can only leave it in the hands of Allah, if we send you money will it help, let us know if there is anything we can do from here in the states to help women like you over there? may Allah (swt) be with you

  43. Your story is both deeply inspiring and unbearably sad. Thank you for having the courage to share it with the world.

    My heart and my thoughts are with you and your mother.

    I would like to help you in whatever way I can whether it be through AWWP or in some other manner.

  44. I worked in Kabul for 12 months until recently and know a lot of responsible people there. If you need us to gather the money these individuals have offered somewhere, and then pass it to you by hand discreetly, I’m sure I can help. Let me know.

  45. Anonymous – I commend you for being so brave, and speaking out, and for continuing to fight for your own rights in your own country. Too often people in the West assume women’s rights are their responsibility to handle in their way, ignoring your feelings and your wants and needs.

    I want to help in whatever way possible.

  46. To think that in the year 2010 there are still people out there who have to fight for an education and are treated like slaves by their own families.
    I may not have much money, but I’ll gladly send some your way if there’s a fund.

    Keep on fighting! I sincerely hope that this will end well for you and your mother!

  47. You aren’t helpless. Take action. Go to the women’s project at the Independent Afghanistan Human Rights Commission. They will help you. There are shelters where you can stay. Your mother can tell your brothers that you disappeared, that she doesn’t know where you are. Bon courage.

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  49. I am so moved by this piece and my heart truly hurts for you. I am sure countless others will be inspired by your courage. I hope you will not give up and find the help you need and deserve. Like many others here, I would like to help you — hopefully we can find a way. Thank you for sharing your story — it is an important one.

  50. Pingback: So sad « Rants and Ramblings

  51. Pingback: I am for sale, who will buy me? (very moving)

  52. I hope we can all find a way to get money to this woman. I linked to this story on my FB and I know of plenty of people who would be willing to make donations to the cause. Small amounts would add up very quickly.

    If only we could figure out a way to help her without the brothers finding out. It does not sound as if she is allowed a bank account. Keep us posted on how we can help if at all possible.

  53. I would like to join the ever-growing list of supporters and admirers. Heroine Anonymous, you, and other women like you, are the true heroes in this world. Your story has strengthened my own resolve – please allow me to help if I can. I, too, will donate my own money, start a fundraiser, write letters – I’ll do anything at all to help.

    lestliepalooza@gmail.com

  54. Pingback: “I Am For Sale. Who Will Buy Me?” « Let's See, Shall We?

  55. What a moving story. I would like to add my name to the ranks willing to help this woman.

    ohigetit1@gmail.com

  56. Dear friend,

    Thank you for sharing your story but don’t five up, this is not the your story in fact this is the reality of millions of Afghan girls and they even do not have the chance to say what you have said, so you must have been the luckiest one.

    If you do something such as losing your courage then no other girl will learn from you, we all are with you and I am sure you can do it if you are alone even. Keep fighting for your life and keep fighting for your dream.

    Please send me your CV. limaahmad@gmail.com

  57. I am glad to see that there will be some kind of fund set up for this writer’s needs. I will gladly give what I can, I will also pass on her story and the link to this website to some folks I know here at the University of Iowa. Maybe they will know some other ways to help.

  58. Hi! I live and work in afghanistan, if there is anything i could do to help would love to, you can email me at jasveen_ahluwalia@yahoo.com

  59. I would like to help in any way that is needed. Anonymous, you will be in my prayers every day. If this group can make a united effort, I will be part of that. Please keep me posted.

  60. I would like to help as well. kellylynne@gmail.com (Please forward my e-mail addy to the committee set up to help.)

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m sorry that it’s been so hard for you, and you’re in my prayers.

  61. I would like to help in any way possible. If there is a collective committee set up or any other information available please contact me.
    jojo82496@yahoo.com

  62. Willing also to commit funds to help. Email me.

    mfstewart@sympatico.ca

  63. I am working on a novel, but I have been burned out on it for awhile. It has been very hard to put myself in a place where I can write in the voices of people who have had their intellectual voices taken away. Simply- no such thing ever happened to me.

    I am going to print out your letter and tape it to the window over my desk. I am going to finish this novel that you gave back to me.

    I will be checking back here to updates. I will do what I can to help you as much as you have helped me, although I don’t think I can thank you enough with mere earthly things.

  64. Please contact me through my e-mail. It is lclark1903@yahoo.com. I am in the Women’s movement. I will be starting my graduate studies in a few weeks. However, I do know people who can help. Please contact me as soon as you can! Thanks!

  65. Salaam,
    can we meet, please!
    Give me a call or send me an email, my emial add is (azizi_makhfi@yahoo.com)
    and my phone is 0779522061 or please send me a text message.
    i am living in Kabul, Mackrorayan.
    Am looking very much forward hearing from you!

  66. This is such an awful situation, and you’re braver than I can say for continuing to resist and speak out…

    Let me know if there’s any way I can help.
    citoyenneb@gmail.com

  67. I, too, will donate what I can be it time or money to assist Heroine Anonymous. It may not be much, but every little bit counts in a situation like this.

    jemonck@gmail.com

  68. I’ll buy you. I have no intentions of making you marry a man you don’t want. I don’t want sex, gratitude, heartache, or any other gift.

    What I do want is your freedom, and if your freedom has a price tag, I’ll pay it. There are many of us in the world who, in the space of a second, step forward and write the check.

    That said, I know it’s not as easy as that, but if this world can free one woman from mental, social, and cultural slavery, what could the slavemakers of the world do then?

  69. Does the saying “follow your bliss,” even mean anything to you, I wonder. It is what i believe all human’s should do, and the world would be a better place. But, I wonder if that is even a concept that a woman in such a repressing situation can comprehend. But, i believe you will find your way.

  70. I am so very sad for you. I hate that you have to live in fear. You are so very brave and it makes my problems seem so small. Please know I don’t have much, but I would love to send you something if it would help. If someone would e-mail me and let me know how to help this girl, I will gladly help. My e-mail is dholt@palopetro.com. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  71. I will help in any way I can. Please email me at denim_ninja@hotmail.co.uk if there is a way to donate money or any other way I can help.

  72. the question that keeps pondering my heart is what can i do..what can i do?..i read these sordid stories and the only thing i can do is have you in my thoughts . If it was up to me I would make the journey there no government or military protocols just for once help humanity….Stay strong. For some reason your story reminded me of A thousand splendid suns….

  73. At first, I couldn’t even finish reading this because it was making me sad and I wanted to cry. I finally finished reading this, just now, and I want to tell you that you are a very strong person. NEVER let ANYONE tell you that you are worthless or that you worth little. Education is the key to success and you should NEVER give up on it. Keep a strong heart and a strong mind. Never let go of your dreams.

  74. My daughter just applied to 6 different Universities. I was moved to tears reading this. What a difference between these two young lives. My daughter on the brink of her independence and this brave ,articulate Afghani Woman on the brink of slavery.

    Please let me know where I can send some money to help you.

  75. I would like to help, if at all possible.

    dolly_speaks@hotmail.com

  76. Please let me know if there’s a way I can help.

    incaroads5@aol.com

  77. These Muslims. The enlightened ones “let” their women wear scarves and maybe a have a job. The rest treat them like broodstock and cattle.

  78. Anonymous writer, you have the power behind you of all the women and men who have read your words. I am certain that you live in such great fear that you may not even trust enough to reach out to all these strangers who offer you support.

    Regardless of what slavery your brothers may force upon you, there is a world of women who now know about you and will support through thought, prayer, money and connections.

    There will be a way to change your situation even though you may not see the path today or even for several years. Stay strong if you can. There will be a way.

    Stay alive for your mother. She will give you strength even if she doesn’t have the power to give you freedom.

  79. Pingback: Afgan Women’s Writing Project.. « I READ….

  80. Pingback: I Am For Sale, Who Will Buy Me? (From The Afghan Women’s Writing Project)

  81. I know your father’s angels are watching after you. You have come so far. We are praying for you. May someone here, or at home, have the right help for you at this time.

    Sending you love,
    Stacy

  82. Pingback: Sad Story « Girl Unexpected

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