My mother told me a story from our neighborhood in the Herat province in Afghanistan about a young woman named Latifa. She lived in our community during the Taliban regime in 1999. Latifa was only 20 when she fell in love with a boy named Qurban and she had to keep it a secret from her family.

A while later, Latifa became pregnant. When Latifa’s family found out, they suggested to Qurban’s family that he marry her. When Qurban refused, Latifa’s family killed her. Nobody told the police.

At that time under the Taliban there was no real government, and the Taliban themselves harassed and abused women in the city. If this were to happen today, Latifa’s parents could be sent to jail. But in this case, the family killed their daughter and moved away. Qurban married another woman and they have children.

Latifa’s family killed her because of their honor. In Afghanistan there are many stories like this one. People kill their daughters, sisters and wives when they discover their secret love.

About a month ago, I read in the news about a 15-year-old girl named Saberah in Badghis province. She loved a boy in her neighborhood. She could not tell her family because she knew they would kill her. So she ran away with her boyfriend.

Soon Saberah’s family learned which village Saberah was living in. Her grandfather went to the village and requested that Saberah come back. People in the village made him promise he wouldn’t harm her and when he promised, they let Saberah go with her grandfather.

When Saberah got to her house, her family and relations beat her. Her uncle acted as the judge and declared that she should die so then her family beat her to death and buried her inside the house. Police arrested four relatives, but Saberah’s father escaped.

I think life without love is like a body without a spirit. Love can change life and become the foundation of a new life without sadness or bitterness. When we see a woman and man starting marriage with love, we think that with encouragement they will continue their lives with love. But when a couple starts their new life by force without love, the foundation for their life together is shaky. They don’t have the same enjoyment. Life is less sweet.

I think love is an important part of our life. When a girl and a boy love each other and want to get married to one another I think they will be starting a good life, the kind of life that will be enjoyable for both of them. They will be successful in their lives. I think people in society should be supportive of them to bring them good fortune.

But unfortunately in Afghanistan most marriages are forced marriages. Girls especially suffer from these kinds of marriages and they have no happiness. Their lives are only about delivering children and looking after them and obeying their husbands and their new in-law families.