One day I was clicking through HBO and landed on this very interesting documentary. This movie is about three Afghani women who are in prison for “moral crimes”. The documentary starts out by saying that the Badum Bagh Women’s Prison houses 125 inmates. Half of the prisoners are there for drug smuggling, murder and suicide bombing, but the other half are there for, what the documentary calls, moral crime. Twenty year old Kareema was arrested for having sex before marriage. She is also pregnant. Her fiancé was also arrested for the same crime. They are both awaiting trial. They decide to get married in prison so they can get a shorter prison sentence. With this couple we get to see them negotiate a dowry that the husband’s parents are to pay to the bride’s parents.
Another one of the subjects is Aleema who is a very outspoken 23 year old who was arrested for running away from home. She ran away to a friend’s house. Her friend Zia was also arrested for housing her and so was Zia’s son. Apparently the authorities felt that they don’t know what was going on in the house. They were arrested under the speculation that they were maybe going to try and sell Aleema. There is no evidence that they were going to sell Aleema. Throughout the movie Zia is saying over and over again that Aleema should marry her son so they can get less time to serve. Aleema refuses. She is also afraid to get out of prison because she says her parents will drown her.
The last subject is an eighteen year old named Sabereh. She was turned in by her own father for having a young boy in the house. She says that she did not have sex with him. They send her to a doctor that says she is still a virgin. Later on in the movie while Sabereh is waiting to go to court they say that the tests are inconclusive and that there is evidence of anal sex. Her father tries to negotiate a marriage with the boy’s family, but they refuse. She ends up getting three years for sex. Kareema and her fiancé get three months with time served, Aleema gets 10 months, and Zia gets 18 months.
This documentary is very eye opening and sad. Some of the rules and rulings were very questionable to me. There were a lot of times when it seemed like the authorities were putting words in the prisoner’s mouths. It was interesting seeing some customs compared to some of the societies that we have studied this semester. There is a lot more to it than what I have summarized here. It is worth taking a look at.
The documentary can be seen on HBO on Demand and also on your computer or tablets if you are already a HBO subscriber.