Fatima was only five years old when her father sold her to an older handicapped man for about DKK 24,000. When she turned 12, she was sent to live with the deaf-mute man.
For two years, she was beaten and abused. Until she plucked up the courage to escape. Out into the unknown. Fatima was lucky to end up at the women’s shelter in Kabul. Had her family found her, she would have been killed.
This was the story author and journalist Simi Jan shared on Children’s Day in November 2018. Among those in the audience was Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, who is deeply committed to the global fight for women’s rights, and who, through the work carried out by The Mary Foundation, actively works to combat domestic violence.
After listening to Simi Jan’s description of the women’s brutal fates and shelter’s difficult financial circumstances, The Mary Foundation approached the Danish Embassy in Kabul, UN Women, Danner and other organisations to find out more about the women’s shelter. The feedback was extremely positive, which made it easy to choose the recipient of The Mary Foundation’s special donation for 2018:
“Women’s rights in Afghanistan are under pressure on many levels. Afghan women grapple with destructive and powerful social norms that make them extremely vulnerable. Mary Akrami has dedicated her life to helping women and children and is a strong spokesperson in the fight to change conditions for women in Afghanistan. This requires exceptional courage and has also made her a target for those who don’t want change. We would like to use The Mary Foundation’s special donation to support her impressive and profound work,”
explained HRH Crown Princess Mary.
Part of the independent Afghan Women Skills Development Center, the women’s shelter was established by Mary Akrami in 2003 as the country’s first women’s shelter. The almost 70 women and children who are currently living at the crisis centre are safe, but are nevertheless still scarred physically and psychologically by their violent experiences. Fearing for their lives, they do not leave the shelter and instead spend their time healing and regaining their faith in a life without violence.
“I am deeply grateful for and delighted to receive this wonderful donation. It means a lot, because it makes me feel that I am not alone. Women’s shelters are under threat because there are many forces that want them closed. But I will continue the fight. It is my mission in life. I will continue to fight for my fellow sisters’ basic rights, such as the right to education, access to medical care and the right to control one’s own body – and for them not to be treated as a man’s property but as equals. This donation will be spent on education, medical care, legal assistance and increased security. Additional funds also enable me to accept more women into the crisis centres, and that means the world to women in mortal danger,” expressed founder and leader Mary Akrami from Kabul.
Every year, the Crown Princess presents The Mary Foundation’s special donation to a project or organisation that has shown particular potential.