When she couldn't keep up with the workload, Gulsoma says, she was
"They beat me with electric wires," she says, "mostly on
the legs. My father-in-law told his other children to do it that way so
the injuries would be hidden. He said to them, 'break her bones, but don't
hit her on the face.'"
There were even times when the family's abuse of Gulsoma transcended
the bounds of the most wanton, sadistic cruelty, as on the occasions when
they used her as a human tabletop, forcing her to lie on her stomach then
cutting their food on her bare back.
Gulsoma says the family had one boy her age, named Atiqullah, who
refused to take part in her torture.
"He would sneak me food sometimes and when my mother-in-law told
him to find a stick to beat me, he would come back say he couldn't find
one," she says. "He would try to stop the others sometimes. He
would say 'she is my sister, and this is sinful.' Sometimes I think about
him and wish he could be here and I wish I could have him as my
brother."One evening, Gulsoma says, when her father-in-law saw the
neighbor giving her food and a blanket, he took them away and beat her
mercilessly. Then, she says, he locked her in a shed for two months.
"I would be kept there all day," she says, "then at
night they would let me go the bathroom and I would be fed one time each
day. Most of the time it was only bread and sometimes some beans."
She says every day she was locked in the shed, she wished and prayed
that her parents would come and take her away. Then she would remember
that her father was dead and her mother was gone.
But Gulsoma had an inner strength even her father-in-law couldn't
"When he came to the shed he kept asking me, 'Why don't you die? I
imprisoned you, I give you less food, but still you don't die.'"
But it wasn't for lack of trying. Gulsoma said when her father-in-law
finally let her out of the shed, he bound her hands behind her back and
beat her unconscious. She says he revived her by pouring a tea thermos
filling with scalding water over her head and her back.
"It was so painful," she says, dabbing her eyes with her
scarf and sniffling for a moment. "I was crying and screaming the
Five days later, she says, her father in law gave her a vicious beating
when his daughter's wristwatch went missing.
"He thought I stole it," she says, "and he beat me all
over my body with his stick. He broke my arm and my foot. He said if I
didn't find it by the next day, he would kill me."
* * *