She just wanted to live her life.
Rokhsahana, estimated to be only 19 years of age, was brutally stoned to death just over a week ago, in late October. An Afghan girl belonging to the village of Ghalmeen, she had spent her entire life suffering decisions made by other men.
According to The Guardian:
“According to Joyenda, who has staff members from the village, Rokhsahana first ran away several years ago to Iran after her family tried to marry her off to an old man. After they brought her back, they forcibly married her off to another old man. When she ran away this time, she did so as a married woman, and was punished with stoning.
Local officials, including the police chief and the head of Ghor’s department for women’s affairs, Masooma Anwari, have blamed the Taliban for the killing, claiming that the sentence was decided in a Taliban court.
However, activists in Kabul warned against jumping to conclusions. Wazhma Frogh, co-founder of the Research Institute for Women, Peace and Security, said her contacts in Ghor had told her the perpetrators were not Taliban but rather the local tribal leaders.”
Recorded in the middle of a dusty parched terrain, a video of her brutal punishment has taken the internet by storm. In it, this young girl stands in a confined pit, with only her neck and head above the ground. Several Afghan men sit off to a side, watching like audience members at a theatre. Others dare to observe from a closer distance, documenting on their cellphones the disgusting scene as it develops.
Then, there are the village elders, wearing long turbans and even longer bushy beads. Armed with heavy stones, they walk towards Rokhsahana with the casualness of someone heading towards the lavatory. In the background, Rokhsahana’s voice can be heard, reciting scripture in a clear attempt at melting the stone hearts of her assailants.
One man stops, takes aim, and fires a rock. Others soon follow. The projectiles hit Rokhsahana one by one, with sickening thuds. As the thuds grow louder, so do the bone chilling cries of Rokhsahana.
The high pitched shrieks are enough to tear at the soul of any observer, yet these men don’t seem to be affected. As the video nears its end, one Afghan can be seen passing his camera to another, perhaps so that he too can join in.
Though this video lasts only 30 seconds, the horror continued for the young girl until she succumbed to her injuries. Killed barbarically in an unjust world where men make all the rules and women are nothing but property.
Yes, Rokhsahana was barbarically put down like a dog that had defied its master.
And what of the boy, with whom Rokhsahana had dared to run away?
According to The Daily Mail,
“The man was let off with a lashing, Joyenda’s spokesman said.”
While Rokhsahana’s body was brutally disfigured little by little from the impact of stones until her skin, skull, and face were so badly maimed that she could no longer survive, this man, an equal part in this supposed crime, was let go after a few lashes.
Neither Rokhsahana nor her friend deserved any punishment, yet in the eyes of the village elders, the fault rested largely with her, simply because she was a woman.
Not long ago, Farkhunda Malikzada, a religious teacher, was beaten to death by countless Afghans as they punched and kicked her across the streets of Kabul. There was international outrage and Afghanistan swore Farkhunda’s killers would be punished.
It didn’t quite turn out that way.
According to The Guardian,
“Earlier this year, a state court overturned many of the initial hard sentences given to those behind the mob murder of Farkhunda, a female religious teacher, in Kabul.”
It is a similar tale in Pakistan, where women don’t have the same freedom as men. They are harassed online for having an opinion, passed over for promotions because of their gender, assaulted for playing a cricket match at an iconic university, disfigured by acid for rejecting a marriage proposal, and stoned to death for choosing their own relationships.
Why are so many people of my gender threatened by women struggling to write their own futures? Why do men so quickly turn to violence when displeased with a woman? Is it because physical strength is the only superiority they have?
But is it really superiority? What if the vast majority of political and military leaders from the beginning of time had been women, rather than men? I bet you, we would have avoided the countless wars throughout the ages, and the vast amounts of resources wasted by the world on violence, would have gone towards solving the world’s problems and making it a better place.
I’ll also bet you that Rokhsahana was more intelligent than every man who tried to tear her down with a rock.