Lal Bibi is only 17 years old. She was forced into marriage with someone from her village in an exchange arranged by her parents. After she was married, her husband and in-laws banned her from visiting or communicating with her parents. Soon thereafter, they began to inflict the most horrific abuse on the child. At one point, Lal Bibi was in such a terrible state that her in-laws contacted her father and told him that she had been diagnosed with cancer. They asked him to come to their house to take her back.
When her father arrived, they handed Lal Bibi to him at their doorstep without letting him into the house. Once they got home, Lal Bibi’s father realized that she had suffered the most severe physical abuse, amounting to torture. Muscles in her leg had been severed, her nails were extracted, and she had very bad burns all over her body. She told her parents that in addition to the torture she suffered, her in-laws had locked her up in a well in their yard for an extended period until all her wounds became badly infected.
When confronted, Lal Bibi’s father-in-law denied all the accusations and even accompanied Lal Bibi and her father to the nearest hospital to seek treatment for Lal Bibi. At this hospital, the doctors told Lal Bibi’s family that they had neither the expertise nor the facilities to treat her wounds. Her father then took her to a hospital in the capital of their province.
Upon witnessing Lal Bibi’s terrible condition and the sickening abuse she had suffered, the hospital staff contacted the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, which then immediately transferred Lal Bibi’s care to Women for Afghan Women (WAW).
WAW’s local Family Guidance Center (FGC) and Protection Center (WPC) staff immediately took over Lal Bibi’s medical case. She was suffering from severely infected third-degree burns in her lower limbs, with extensive tissue damage and exposed bones and tendons. WAW worked with the authorities and medical staff to transfer Lal Bibi to yet another hospital, where WAW could ensure she would receive the treatment she desperately needed.
Lal Bibi underwent emergency surgical procedures with two specialized surgeons, who did their best to save her limbs. She was also treated for shock. Thankfully, Lal Bibi responded well to the emergency treatment and WAW was able to transfer her to a specialized burn center, which could provide the follow-up care and rehabilitation that she needed.
However and although Lal Bibi’s infections and pain began to subside, she was in need of further surgery if her legs were to be saved. The local doctors recommended that WAW send her to Kabul for this advanced surgery. WAW arranged for Lal Bibi to be sent to Kabul on a flight that accommodated her in a stretcher, accompanied by her father and a nurse.
Complicating matters, Lal Bibi has a very rare blood type and WAW had to campaign to get blood donated in enough quantities for her upcoming surgery. Fortunately, WAW was successful in the blood donation drive and the last surgery was a great success. After an extensive recovery process and rehabilitation, Lal Bibi finally was able to bend her knees and walk by herself, with her legs and feet set properly.
Finally, in late February of 2020, Lal Bibi was discharged from the hospital and was able to go back home with her father.
However, Lal Bibi’s story does not end here. While Lal Bibi was in recovery, WAW relentlessly prepared a legal case against Lal Bibi’s husband and father-in-law. The latter was detained by the authorities and sentenced to two-years in prison on charges of torture and domestic abuse. Unfortunately, Lal Bibi’s husband fled to a province under the control of the Taliban and out of reach of the Afghan security forces.
But, we are hopeful that her husband will soon be found and we are determined he will be brought to justice.
All of the logistics and costs of the emergency and long-term hospital care, rehabilitation, medications, nutritional supplements, travel expenses, and extensive assistance required for Lal Bibi’s miraculous recovery was taken care of by WAW. You can support clients like Lal Bibi by donating to WAW’s life-saving and life-changing work here.
WAW changes any identifying information, features, and characteristics when relaying their stories in order to protect their and their families’ identities, privacy, and safety.