By Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan researcher at Amnesty International
“Nearly every woman in Afghanistan has a painful story to tell,” says Dr Lima, an Afghan woman who decided to take action after witnessing harrowing cases of rape and violence against women in her country.
Lima works to empower women who are at are at risk of human rights abuses in Afghanistan. She is a professional gynaecologist with a secret and dangerous sideline.
“When I started working, I would not help people when they came to me for an abortion. I would say no,” she says.
It was a predictable reaction in a country where abortions are illegal in the majority of circumstances, but in 2006 Lima was confronted with a story that brought home the devastating scale of the hardships faced by Afghanistan’s women. It would change her mind on the need for access to safe abortion and would lead her to offer abortion, contraception and other forms of help to women when they found themselves with nowhere to turn.