It took a miracle for Shakila Zareen to decide to flee her homeland of Afghanistan; the miracle being that she didn’t die after her violent husband shot her in the face.
Shakila was just 16 when she was coerced to marry a man 14 years her senior, by her brother-in-law. As so often is the case in such situations, her new husband was abusive from the first day of their union. When Shakila finally learned he planned to kill her, she escaped to her mother’s home. That night, her husband forced his way into the house and aimed the trigger at her head, with every intention of ending her life. He didn’t succeed.
But Shakila lost half her face when she was shot, and a baby she didn’t even know she was having.
She knew then that she had to flee Afghanistan.
Shakila Zareen was forced into an abusive marriage to a man who shot her in the face. Now, she’s sharing the story of her long journey from Afghanistan. The U.S. denied her asylum claim, but she’s found refuge – and new hope – in Vancouver. @cbchh @lauralynchcbc @TheCurrentCBC pic.twitter.com/EtD65oP0Wi
— CBC Morning Live (@CBCMorningLive) March 22, 2018
“The bullet that hit me basically took half of my face off,” Shakila recently told CBC’s The Current.
“It was gone — my nose, my mouth, my eye, my teeth, my jaw. ”
In 2012, the Indian government intervened in the high-profile case, transported her to Delhi and paid for nine reconstructive surgeries in three years. Shakila was officially classified as a refugee by The United Nations, and referred for resettlement in the United States – who conditionally approved the move.
Then Shakila got the letter that would change her fate: her application to the U.S. was rejected, as “a matter of discretion for security-related reasons”.
“I couldn’t believe it. I cried all the way home. Everybody in the street stared at me. The message made me so sick I had to go to hospital,” Shakila told the Guardian last year.
Shakila Zareen was welcomed to Canada after she was shot in the face by her husband in Afghanistan and was rejected by the U.S. for “security-related reasons.” https://t.co/dCN2NzUxnc pic.twitter.com/qKH9ctks0z
— CBC News (@CBCNews) March 22, 2018