THE JOURNEY TO DREAMLAND





Tekst af Sabahat Javed Khan | Illustration af Iben Gad | onsdag 10. juni 2020 | yellow bean essay



While reading the book “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini, I was hoping for the story of the two women Mariam and Laila to end up somewhere abroad, far from the patriarchal and populist authoritarian Afghan society ruled by Taliban. The only solution for the two women who had their shares of an abusive marriage, starvation, and the Taliban regime, was leaving. I kept turning pages to reach the point where they finally cross the border and get helped by the powers. They couldn’t succeed, and I felt blue, but never have I thought of the other side of the story. I have never questioned how exactly I expect the two women, along with two children, to travel from their country to a safe one. How easy is it to perceive that the solution to being unsafe is to flee the country? How easy it is to pretend that heaven awaits on the other side of the border.





While discussing the barriers faced by refugees and spreading awareness about the refugee situation, we tend to limit our discussion to the reasons a refugee flees the country and the problems faced after the arrival in the host country, such as language and social stigmatism. But we rarely talk about the process, the months-long process of constant walking through several dangerous paths, the lack of food and safety, the sexual harassment, and inhumane treatment.


We rarely talk about what happens between the borders.


Among the groups of desperate Afghan refugees crossing several borders to reach Turkey, which is their first transit to the dreamland of Europe, a significant number is young women, since it is relatively easier for single girls to cross the border and seek asylum. Those young girls are seen as the sacrificing ones, who would get smuggled at the cost of up to a thousand dollars. They come with a dream of a better life for them and their families that they would reunify with, once they seek asylum in the dreamland. The dream does come true, but at what cost no one asks. The complex and confusing relationship between Iran and Afghanistan is no news to us. The inhumane treatment of Afghan refugees at the border of Iran has been going on for years now. No one questions how their girls will be treated throughout the journey of crossing to borders until they get to Turkey.


The young women arrive malnourished and sick due to constant walking because “The broker who promised to smuggle them to a safe place, in fact, left them alone by the Iran-Turkey border, in the middle of nowhere,” says Farkhanda, a worker at IOM, Turkey. A girl arrived with a kidney taken and sold by the goons at the borders. Another arrived with a leg amputated because she tried to run for her life. “The girls arrive being harassed and raped several times by the monsters who are running the business of organ selling and human trafficking between the borders,” Farkhanda added. The mental trauma and the physical pain they go through is not something they get over quickly. Some women had told Farkhanda during their interview, how before the journey, they used to have nightmares about the bombings, but now they also have nightmares about the journey.


That young girl that a family sends so she can save them all is far from being safe herself. She arrives in a country with the trust in humanity lost. The journey to the dreamland steals not only her rights but also her dreams. 


With the increasing number of asylum seekers being turned away at Europe's borders, the young women are forced to stay in Turkey and earn their living by working illegally. They become victims of forced prostitution and begging business. This takes me back to the book “A thousand Splendid Suns,” and I wonder, had Mariam and Laila succeeded in crossing the border, what are the chances they would not have been forced into prostitution and the children into begging?


Thus my question: Could the cost to arrive in dreamland be one’s loss of basic human rights?



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