Parisa (20) arrived at the prison in 2018. She was married for about five years, during which time she was repeatedly beaten and stabbed by her husband, who was a Taliban fighter. He would tie her up and beat her hands and feet with a thick piece of wood. At one point, she said, he even tried to sell her kidney, going as far as finding a buyer and then taking her to the hospital to get a blood test. “When they determined that my kidney was not a match, he beat me,” she said. Her husband threatened to kill her parents if she filed for a divorce. “I would pray for my death,” she said. “I would say, ‘God, either kill me or him.’ ”
Parisa’s husband tried to shoot her on two different occasions. “He was sitting right in front of me,” she says. “He aimed at me and fired, but the bullet missed me. He would say he was teaching me. On another occasion he opened fire, but by order of God, the gun fell off his hand and the bullet fired in the air.”
Parisa went to her in-laws for protection, but they had little influence over their son. One night, she locked herself in a room in which she found her husband’s rifle and loaded it. She says she fired a shot through the door after her husband started screaming on the other side. The bullet struck him in the chest, and he died minutes later.
Police took Parisa into custody, and after a brief investigation, she was tried, convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Her 1-year-old daughter, Fatima, and her 3-year-old son, Mohammad Irfan, were incarcerated with her. “I accept this imprisonment,” Parisa says. “I was not able to live another day with him, so this is what happened to me.” One weekend Parisa let her in-laws take Mohammad Irfan for a visit and then they refused to give him back. Parisa petitioned the government and her son was eventually returned to her in prison.
When the order came in that female inmates may qualify to buy off the remainder of their sentence, Parisa managed to fund the money that was needed. When her in-laws found out about this, they threatened to kill her and take her children in, ‘the moment she steps foot outside of the prison.’ Parisa kept the money and chose to remain inside the prison, where she ironically feels more free.