2019 - 2020
Violence against women is rampant in Afghanistan. As a Persian saying goes, “a woman enters her husband’s house wearing white and leaves his house wearing white,” referring to the shroud that wraps the dead before burial. That very well could have been the fate of some of these women. Instead, they left in handcuffs and found peace, freedom and hope inside a prison.
This is the story of women who have been pushed so far that they saw no other way out of their abusive marriages but to murder their husbands. Many did to save their lives and their children's.
The 15-foot walls that surround the Herat Women’s Prison are common to government properties in Afghanistan, as is the corrugated-metal gate, which is guarded by security personnel day and night. The concertina wire that encircles the walls gives the compound a cagelike feeling, but the barriers are meant to keep intruders from getting in as much as they are intended to keep inmates from getting out.
Behind bars, they have found a semblance of peace — or at least a place less violent than the one they killed to escape. The prison grounds are a quiet world of cement walkways, courtyards carpeted in artificial turf and overgrown gardens of trees and weeds. Barefoot children play on what remains of a playground. Mothers watch as their sons and daughters play and grow, as if this were a backyard in any ordinary neighborhood.