The book was released in March 2023. You were still in Afghanistan. Two and a half months ago, you managed to escape…
KA: In turn, I was wanted by the Taliban. My father ordered me to flee at all costs. I found it hard to abandon my parents, my sister, my students. We went to the Pakistani border. It was 8 o’clock one morning. I couldn’t show my papers.
The border guards asked me where my husband was, my luggage… My father had brought me a bag and I asked a man who also wanted to leave the country to help me carry it. This unknown Afghan and I crossed the border together at 5 p.m., and when they asked me for my papers, I replied that this man was my husband… I was so scared that I thought my heart was going to come out of my body. We were let into Pakistan…
MB: This escape hung by a thread. Khatera has been in great danger several times. If she didn’t answer the phone for several days, I felt very worried. At any moment, she could be apprehended.
KA: In Pakistan, I completed my application to go to the United States. I arrived there mid-September. I have refugee status, which gives me some rights, but not all, notably not the right to care. Very weakened, I went to the emergency room several times, I thought I was going to die… I only received a few medications. Without health insurance, there is no protection. And on the work side, you have to be co-opted, know people. Qualifications hardly matter. But I will continue my fight so that my country finds a democratic regime that respects women’s rights. If all the women in the world united, I am sure that we could live in peace on this planet.
The results of our “On the Way” award
François-Henri Désérable is the winner of our “En chemin” Mention Prize for The wear and tear of a world. A crossing of Iran, Ed. Gallimard. We will interview him in the spring in our magazine.