Behind "Mask," Afghan Women Speak of Abuse

A Muslim woman wears burqa in Afghanistan. AFP/Getty Images

A Muslim woman wears burqa in Afghanistan.
AFP/Getty Images

A new television show in Afghanistan features women anonymously telling their stories of abuse after being forced into marriages arranged by their families.

Special Report: Afghanistan

The show provides the women anonymity by covering their faces with a half-blue, half-white mask, hence its name of "Niqab", or "The Mask", according to a CNN report published Monday. (Video below)

The mask's pale blue side is intended to be the same color as the "chaudari", or burqa, Muslim women wear and represents the country's oppression of women while the white represents innocence, CNN reported.

On the show, a woman named Saraya told her story of being married off at the age of 15 to a 58-year-old known rapist.

"I had so many dreams for my life, but when I saw him, they just disappeared," Saraya said. "I told my father I didn't want to marry him: 'Why are you doing this to me?' ... My father said, 'You are of an age to be married, and this is my decision, not yours.'"

She eventually ran away from the man with her three children, fearing he would kill them all if he ever found them.

The show's creator, Sami Mahdi, 28, told CNN that the mask is essential for "Niqab".

"In Afghanistan, it's very difficult for women to talk about their difficulties and their problems and the violence they are facing in their home," Mahdi told CNN.

He also said he hopes to bring about a positive change for the lives of women in Afghanistan by broadcasting their stories.

"Maybe there are a lot of mothers, thousands of mothers, who are living in the same situation," Mahdi told CNN. "They don't have a tongue. They don't have a voice to talk about what they are suffering."

  • Alex Sundby

    Alex Sundby is an associate news editor for CBSNews.com

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