Hala – the Criminal with No Crime

When Teaching is a Crime


Hala Escapes The Taliban

When Teaching is a Crime

Hala, aged 27, lived in a restrictive environment full of rules and regulations applied by the Taliban in her home country of Afghanistan. Oppressive demands like painting the windows black and layering the windows with thick curtains to prevent men from looking inside her home and gazing at her. Such regulations were placed to alienate of women in society, keeping them indoors far from what is happening in their surroundings.

But Hala became a criminal, and this is what was her big crime. It all started with empathy and desire to help her neighbour’s daughters by teaching them basic schooling. Soon, the number of children she tutored, grew from 2 to 15, and then to 60 children in her improvised classroom. Her teaching was a huge risk at a place where schools were not permitted, as according to the Taliban laws, women should not receive education as they are only destined to become housewives. And generally, the only book to be studied is the Koran.

Soon her activity got unwanted attention and the Taliban first came to question. She denied to be a teacher or knowing who the teacher is. The following day they came again, and this time it was violent. They promised to come back the next day and settle the scores with her. Her brother’s friend, Jabar, warned her about the severity of the danger and her family and friends helped her to leave the country to keep her alive. Hala had to sacrifice her past life to survive and look for an opportunity for a new future. She was a victim of to her own compassion.

You Are Not Welcome

She managed to reach JFK airport, travelling to her Sister’s house in Pittsburg, US. Landing at the airport, Hala thought her nightmare is over, but what she got was detention. It was when Sulima mentioned to the Border patrol that her Sister is fleeing from the Taliban as she was a target things went even worse. Afghanistan is one of the top countries in the US Terrorist risk list, and the reaction of the officials was very swift.

The Security staff demanded her to remove all her clothing and took her belongings. Hala had to somehow prove her innocence to show that she was not secretly sent by the Taliban to throw a terrorist attack. Hala was interrogated for hours and when she hoped it was all over when a lady from the Border security informed her that she was going to stay detained till she proves 100% innocent. Somehow Hala had become a criminal again. She was treated violently and hit in the head by the officers.

Hala’s kindness led her to become a criminal, and when she thought she was free, her problems were far from over. But this story ends with a happy ending – finally Hala was granted asylum status and now lives with her Sister in the US. For more details check the article from The Guardian below.

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Hala now lives in US


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