“I want to go with my mother out of Afghanistan”


Her daughter’s birth certificate indicates the father’s name, but not his, even though she is the mother. At first it seemed strange but then he didn’t pay much attention to it. In Afghanistan, it is common for a woman’s name not to appear anywhere in official documents. “Foreign mother” is the only thing that says the document certifying the birth of the girl. It does not include your name, or your surname, or even your nationality. Cecilia Bernal is Peruvian, but married an Afghan. What she didn’t imagine then was that when she divorced, she would have no way of proving that the girl was her daughter. Nor to take her out of the country. “I’ve been silent all these years, but I can’t keep quiet anymore.” Now more than ever she is desperate.

Cecilia married in June 2003. It can be said that it was almost a love at first sight. They met on the internet, liked each other and she traveled from Peru to Pakistan, where he worked. A few months later the couple moved to Kabul to get married according to the rite of the Islamic religion. Of course, Cecilia had to adapt to a life to which she was not accustomed. There was no furniture in the house, just a rug on the floor and a few pillows. The sink was a simple latrine. And he had to live with his mother-in-law.

Sara, the daughter, was born on July 5, 2005. Cecilia says she tried to register her at the Peruvian embassy in India – the South American country has no diplomatic legation in Afghanistan. but he failed because he was missing a document he now does not remember. The only evidence she has that Sara came out of her womb is that when the girl was 3 years old, the couple remarried civilly in Kabul City Hall. The marriage certificate indicates the names of the two spouses and states that they have a daughter named Sara.

The problems began in 2010. Cecilia insisted she wanted to return to Peru and her husband began flirting with a co-worker. “My mother-in-law tried to convince me to accept that my husband would marry a second wife,” recalls Cecilia, who could not believe it. Her husband had always been a seemingly progressive man, who had even worked for Unifem – the United Nations agency for women – or for the gender and human rights unit of a Swedish NGO. Cecilia’s response was categorical: she filed for divorce, but not knowing what that would entail.

In Afghanistan, the father always keeps custody of the children after the divorce. It is so with the Taliban and it was so with the presence of international troops in the country. Cecilia explains that as soon as she divorced, her husband took her out of the house with what little she had and did not speak to her again. Since then you can only communicate with him by email. He was able to continue seeing his daughter but always at his mother-in-law’s house. He couldn’t go out with her on the street and not even take a walk. The daughter, who is now 16, corroborates this, although she has another version: “My father did not want me to take any risks. That’s why I wouldn’t let go with my mother, “he said by telephone from Kabul.

Cecilia confesses that it even occurred to her to take the girl illegally, to take her out of Afghanistan. But Sara had no passport and there was no way to get it. In Afghanistan a mother cannot apply for a passport for her minor children. The procedure must always be carried out by the father.

Now, with the return of the Taliban, Cecilia fears that Sara will be forcibly married. The daughter also wants to leave Afghanistan anyway: “All my dreams have vanished. I wanted to study computer science in college and I won’t be able to anymore. I want to go with my mother ”. Since the Taliban arrived in Kabul, she has not returned to high school, she is locked up at home. Classes have resumed but only for students up to 12 years old.

Cecilia lived in Afghanistan until 2017. She left after the brutal attack on a tanker truck in Kabul in which nearly a hundred people were killed. She was very close and was miraculously saved. She first moved to Dubai, but there life was very expensive, so she then returned to Peru, where she works as an English teacher.


Source: Ara.cat – Portada by www.ara.cat.

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