Selling Daughters into Slavery is “Baad”
The word itself suggests evil: baad, the practice of making daughters pay for others’ crimes. A young girl becomes a slave and target for the rage that one family feels toward another. In the end, greater wrongs are committed than the original crime.
Baad is practiced in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The most well-known case is Bibi Aisha whose disfigured face shocked the world on an August 2010 cover of Time.
Aisha had been forced to marry at age 13 in retaliation for her uncle’s crime.
She rarely saw her husband, a soldier. Instead, she slept in a barn with the animals, she was forced to serve her in-laws, and she was regularly beaten. Fearing for her life, she escaped. But once found, a Taliban-run court ordered her nose and ears cut off. Her husband took her out in the woods and readily obliged. After cutting her and leaving her for dead, Aisha crawled to her grandfather’s house and was transported to an American medical facility.
Shakila is another girl who was taken into slavery because her uncle committed adultery. She was kept in a dark room, not allowed a change of clothing, and fed only bread and water every other day. She was let out only to haul water or firewood or, ironically, for prayers.
Another girl named Wasifa was taken because a creditor was not paid. When she escaped her family killed her for the “dishonor” her fleeing had brought them.
The threat of baad is terrifying. One little girl who heard Wasifa’s story related:
Now we girls keep quiet and nod our heads… Some nights Wasifa comes to my dreams and I feel so scared, I am scared that this will happen to me or my sisters.
Mah Gul Yamam, a legal expert at the Afghan Human Rights Organization says baad is prohibited in Afghanistan — at least for widows and women over age 18:
A perpetrator bears personal responsibility for his crimes. This responsibility cannot be transferred to others. But unfortunately, in Afghanistan, when a man commits a crime, it is the females that have to bear the punishment.
Religious scholar, Maulawi Rahman Rahmani says baad should not be tolerated under Islam:
It is a serious sin to give away another’s life to escape punishment. It is the obligation of Islamic scholars to try and eliminate these unwanted traditions.
Yet the cultural callousness that blinds even fathers to their daughters’ suffering is remarkable. Shakila’s father told the New York Times, “We did not mind giving girls.” And Human Rights Watch quotes a community member saying:
Instead of killing the brother it was much better to give this girl as baad. She was also killed in a way but if they killed the brother then the enmity between the two tribes would continue for centuries.
Are those the only two choices?
It’s easy to blame Afghanistan for their blindness. But we should look at how we may tolerate similar types of crimes. Whenever we tolerate arrests of young prostitutes who are forced into it (and even if they are not it is statutory rape), or whenever we blame rape victims and battering victims for the crimes committed against them, we blindly share in the girls’ torture.
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Posted on January 24, 2014, in feminism, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged Afghanistan, Aisha, baad, feminism, Islam, Pakistan, sexism, violence against women, women. Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.