Setara’s Story


My story is full of suffering. When I was 13, my father arranged for me to be married to a member of the Taliban. I refused and appealed to the rest of my family for help, but they forced the marriage anyway. I had to escape, so I ran away from home and went to the nearby police station for help. The police sent me to the Human Rights Commission in Kabul.

DSC_0973My family searched for me. They used their influence with the police to find me through the Human Rights Commission. They visited me and tried to persuade me to go with them. They told me that the man said that even if I returned, he wouldn’t accept me. Instead, he had demanded my 11-year-old sister to be his wife. I felt so empty—it was my fault my sister was married. I planned to return with my family, but my mother whispered a warning in my ear: “Don’t come. They will stone you to death.” So I stayed at the Hagar shelter. I have been here for four years now. My sister’s husband is in Guantanamo prison. I haven’t had contact with her or the rest of my family for many years.

At Hagar, I had my first experience of studying at school and taking extra courses in English, Math, and Chemistry. I just graduated from the 8th grade and I feel proud of that. I miss my sister and cry for the life she leads, but I don’t regret leaving.

I now have dreams for my future. I dream about becoming a policewoman. Soon I will start at the police academy and earn a salary to support myself. As a policewoman, I will support girls and women’s rights.

I am very hopeful but sometimes very afraid to go outside. I worry about my future, and I am ashamed because I have lived in a shelter. I have no one in the world. In the past, I was very traumatised and cried often. Now I feel better, but I still think often of my sister.


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*Hagar pursues the highest degree of care and protection for its clients; names have been changed and images do not necessarily reflect the individual profiled.