Before she turned 16 years old, Nassima’s father informed her that she was to be married off to a man over twice her age. This was not a marriage of love but about money, and she refused to obey her father. He turned violent against her, wanting to see her dead. In her father’s eyes, she had committed an unforgivable sin defying him, trampling on the family’s honor. Driven by rebellion and fear, Nassima threw herself in the river in an attempt to take her own life. She would have died on that day, had a bystander not intervened.
When Nassima arrived in Hagar’s shelter in Kabul, she was broken. Far from her hometown, she felt alone, missing her mother daily. But with the help of her case manager and counselors, she began to build her life again. She started English classes, went to day school and even took up sports.
Many competitions and medals later, we caught up with Nassima to find out about her life and future dreams today.
“I want to join the police force because I want to make a difference in my country. I have seen so many vulnerable children and women in the streets of Kabul, so I want to make an impact.” she said.
Nassima’s resilience displays incredible inner strength of character. From rejected by her family and community under a system where women’s rights are so often disregarded, to playing a role in empowering female role models. She wants to teach karate and taekwondo to women in the army and police and wants to impact the nation’s legal and protection sector for the good.
“Of course this decision hasn’t been taken lightly. Before I decided to pursue a career in the police force, I had decided to train as a beautician and set up a small beauty parlor in my hometown. I wanted to be closer to my mother, because she calls me and tells me how much she misses me. But, when my case manager and Hagar’s legal officer looked into the possibility of me returning to my community, my father transferred a message informing that if I set foot in the village, he would kill me. So with the help of Hagar, we explored alternatives. I am now pursuing a career that I believe is honorable and just.”
Nassima does not want revenge on her father. She understands the system and the ways of men in Afghanistan. Family honor is paramount. But, Nassima knows she had no alternative. There was no turning back. Instead, she wants to make a difference to the lives of others more vulnerable around her in Kabul, and wants to transfer her skills and knowledge of self-defense to women around her. Her sports coach wanted to see her become a coach in the gym she attends. He had great plans to see her excel in the world of sports. But Nassima thinks otherwise.
Nassima’s journey is filled with big dreams and Hagar is here to support her along the way.