My oldest son is 14 and I have no news of him.

Mother, Ghor
© Kiana Hayeri

"I am Belqis, mother of three girls and six boys. I am the guardian of this family. We had a better situation before the Taliban takeover. The former government surveyed and supported us. Occasionally, the government would conduct a census or survey, and we would be included in the government support programmes. We received some aid. I didn’t have to go to people’s houses for charity.

My oldest son is 14. I have no news of him. He disappeared. After the Taliban takeover of the country last year, I had to sell my six-year-old daughter for 100,000 afghani to pay off the expenses of the rest of the family. I have to provide for the family. We don’t have tea at home. No soap. It is a bad situation. 

It is not just me suffering this situation, there are many women similar to me. There are hundreds of women who provide for their families and have no men around. The women who do not have a man in their life have to go to other people’s houses and beg for charity. Some people give, and some do not.

I sold my daughter out of poverty and desperation. I sold her so that the rest of the family wouldn’t starve to death. I am certain that my daughter won’t suffer starvation at her new home, and the money that I received can cover my family’s expenses for some time.

I am really sad for my daughter. I always grieve for her. She had no idea what was happening to her. She says I sold her for the sake of her brothers and sisters. She tells me, “God is great.” Whenever she leaves, I mourn. Whenever she comes back, I am relieved. My daughter is too young. Some days she comes to us from her husband’s house – until she gradually gets used to her new home. She doesn’t know where she has gone, or why.  

The Taliban has announced that women cannot leave the house without a male chaperone (mahram). However, women like me who have children and are the sole guardian have no choice but to go out on their own. I am a tailor. I have to take my products to the market and sell them. Although I don’t earn much, I can at least provide shampoo, soap and sandals for my children. 

I buy soap and shampoo and wash my children clean. Sometimes, I buy them shoes. A woman without a man has no choice but to beg for charity.

Sometimes, I get afraid of calling to houses and collecting clothes for my children. I go to the houses that are in the city. When I see guns in these houses, I get scared. If I do not receive any aid,  I will have to sell another daughter. I have a one-year-old daughter. I will take her to the city and auction her off in front of the Central Mosque. The older girls are sold off for 100,000 afghani. I will sell my baby daughter for 50,000. 

I always wished for a comfortable life. A life where I could send my children to school. I wished to see my children become doctors, educators, or religious scholars. Now, if I send them to school, all of us would die of hunger.

We don’t have food or firewood. My children collect cartons and other burnable rubbish at night, so that we can use it as firewood. They collect food from people’s houses. I stare at the door and wait until 10 o’clock at night for them to return. Sometimes they bring something to eat, and sometimes we sleep with empty stomachs.

If you are poor, you have no future. If you are poor, you have no hope. 

Our only hope is God. I went to the (de facto) Governor’s Office and begged for help. I called on the Taliban to come and check our house, if they found anything, they could stop us from begging for food. We are begging out of poverty. 

Afghanistan is in a very bad situation. The situation of women is even worse. Everything is really expensive. Women have no breadwinners. Some are widowed. Some women’s husbands have disappeared. Some have disabled husbands. Some have paralyzed husbands and cannot leave the house…

The poor and deprived people need support. My wish is that the widows, people with disabilities, those who are mute and cannot speak, all of the deprived people are supported." 

Next story