Last year, Mirwais and Rehana ‘s wedding in Afghanistan ‘s capital Kabul was targeted by an IS suicide bomber who killed over 90 of their guests. The couple lost close family members and friends and their mental health suffered a heavy toll from the attack. Marks the anniversary of the attack this week. Rehana, 18, has agreed for the first time to speak out openly about what happened that day.
People’s crowds make her anxious, as does car travel. Some of those who died that day’s relatives raised the idea of holding a protest outside the wedding hall where the assault took place, commemorating the anniversary and calling for the assailants to be brought to justice. Yet Mirwais, he said, would not attend. His hands start trembling at the blast’s mere thought.
The couple’s wedding has been threatened because they are from the Shia community in Afghanistan, which is deemed heretical by the Islamic State party. In recent years IS militants have begun repeated attacks on the Shia community. The pain of the attack was suddenly compounded for Rehana and Mirwais, as some relatives and associates held them responsible for the bloodshed.
The Victims Narration
Some of the victims ‘ families began to see the pair as their “enemies,” he said. Mirwais, a tailor, forces to close his shop due to the violence. Rehana also targets, with people suggesting the attack occurring if the couple never marry. IS, which assumes responsibility for the blast in Afghanistan, is much less strong than the Taliban, but the group carries out scores of deadly attacks. This blames in May for a brutal attack on a Kabul maternity unit where militants kill 24 women, children and infants.
IS lay siege to a jail in the eastern city of Jalalabad earlier this month, freeing hundreds of detainees. The abuse comes amid the group ‘s loss of territories and a number of its senior members detaine. The continued violence causes Rehana and Mirwais to relive their own encounters.
Rehana is now providing exceptional psychological assistance, thanks to Peace of Mind Afghanistan, a charity based in Kabul. She states that the therapy helps her to cope with the uncertainty and pain of the attack, and to hold responsible for it. Her consultant, Lyla Schwartz, has talked with the pair to BBC. She said Rehana made good progress, but “then there’s an explosion, and she’s really going back.”
Given the thousands killed or injured in Afghanistan each year, few ever get therapy. Mental health is unseen as a concern in a country in which access to basic healthcare is low. Rehana and Mirwais, who otherwise would not be able to afford private therapy, had benefited from the charity ‘s work.
Talking to a psychologist and discussing their concerns had significantly improved her, Rehana said. Mirwais consented. Peace talks set to begin between the Afghan government and the Taliban in the coming week but fighting continues. IS is not on the negotiation table. She said Rehana doesn’t feel free in Afghanistan anymore. Ms Schwartz hopes to raise funds to encourage the couple to spend some time abroad, away from the blasts of suicide, away from the blame for the disaster that has befallen their marriage. Mirwais has sought some therapy for the trauma, but he remains disillusioned with the chances for peace like Rehana.