Desperation of prostitution in Kabul

Fascinating yet disturbing insight into a hidden world inside Afghanistan (via Channel 4):

In a Kabul suburb we have come to a woman’s house. We’ll call her Habiba. She’s playing with her daughter on the carpet, a toddler. There’s a small but modern flatscreen TV in the corner. A house of several bedrooms.… In her headscarf and jeans she is very westernised by Afghan standards. On several occasions Channel 4 News meets Habiba and films and talks to her, with her husband not present. Even meeting an Afghan woman at all in her home would be quite unthinkable in most parts of this country and most of this city too – let alone doing so with no husband in the room.

But what we shall witness in this house goes so far beyond the norms of Afghanistan’s conservative society – so far beyond the norms of British society come to that – it is hard to find words to frame it.

Habiba, in her late 20s, is a schoolteacher. Her husband, a civil-servant. Or at least they were.

Some months back her husband’s epilepsy and other health problems forced him to leave his job, he said. And then he took to drink. And he also took to beating Habiba up if she declined to do his bidding.

By any standards in any society that bidding is extraordinary. He has forced her to leave the classroom and become a prostitute. He, the husband, is now also the pimp.

“I hate this life,” she says, tears rolling down her cheeks. “Right now I hate myself and my husband. I think I am the worst person in the world. It is horrible. And what about my daughter?”

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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