How the UNDP helped save a woman from a life of misery

For the sake of privacy, some of the names in this story are changed.

Parwana is a young woman living in Mazar-e Sharif of Balkh province. Unfortunately, she became one of millions of women around the world who experience domestic violence.

“I was 22 years old when I married Mahmood, a 26-year man from Mazar-e Sharif,” says Parwana. “It was an arranged marriage, and to begin with we were happy.”

After she was married, Parwana moved in with her in-laws, and her nightmare began. They treated her with little respect. Then both her husband and her in-laws began to beat her.

“They made my life hell,” says Parwana. She cannot stop crying when she remembers that time.

Parwana with her two-year old baby girl, Dunya. Photo © UNDP / 2018

“My husband's family always found an excuse to beat me,” she remembers. “I suffered violence from morning till night. Violence was like eat and drink to me. Even when I was two-months pregnant, they beat me.”

Like most Afghan women who experience violence, Parwana suffered in silence. She believed her life would get better with time. But it actually got worse. At times, she even feared for her life.

Eventually, Parwana told her parents and friends about her treatment. She moved out of her in-laws’ place and moved in with her parents. She finally decided that she wanted a divorce and sought help from the bar association in Mazar-e Sharif, supported by the Legal Aid Grant Facility (LAGF).

The UNDP-supported Access to Justice (AA2J) project brings access to justice to vulnerable people like Parwana. With the help of the bar association, Parwana managed to get a divorce from her husband, and start a new life with her baby girl, Dunya. Parwana has now started her education at nursing school, her long-term dream, and Dunya, now two years old,  has started kindergarten.

Parwana started her education at nursing school in Mazar-e Sharif. Photo © UNDP / 2018

“I want to finish my education to become a midwife,” Parwana says proudly. “I would like to stand on my own two feet and make something of my life.” Parwana also wants her daughter to have a bright future, free of violence.

UNDP’s AA2J project is carried out in partnership with the Ministry of Justice. The project supports the Legal Aid Grant Facility (LAGF) programme to bring justice closer to vulnerable groups. About 7,000 cases in 8 provinces have been assisted by LAGF so far, including 939 female cases.

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