Rape Under an Afghan Sky

Recently I attended the celebration of Women’s College Hospital’s 100th anniversary. Mellissa Fung, a journalist for the CBC, was the keynote speaker.

Mellissa recently published Under An Afghan Sky, her story of being kidnapped as she came out of a refugee camp where she’d covered the story of people who had fled their homes. Mellissa was nabbed be three armed men, thrown into a car that took her, bleeding from knife wounds, to the hole in the earth where she would spend the next 28 days.

It’s an incredible story of a woman’s ability to mentally and physically survive the ordeal. What struck me most poignantly, though, was her disclosure of having been raped by her captors.  Initially, this modern career woman was too ashamed to answer yes when the compassionate RCMP officer questioned her about her experience and asked her if she’d been sexually assaulted.  Nor did she tell her partner, Paul Workman, CTV Washington Bureau Chief. He found her curled up in fetal position under her desk and that began her journey of getting help for her PTSD.

Fung says she has a responsibility to talk about the rape at knifepoint because rape is so common to Afghan women that they don’t even think of it as a crime. Any woman who speaks out about being sexually assaulted is thrown into jail as an adulterer.

“So, who am I to hide that when I can talk freely about it here?” says Fung (Sarah Hampson, The Globe and Mail, May 12, 2011.)

Fung found it hard to talk about – and yet it was a rape by a stranger. No wonder it’s so hard to talk about being sexually abused when the perpetrator is a person trusted by the family.


  1. Honey says:

    Wait, I cannot fathom it being so stragihtfroawrd.

  2. Honey, thanks for your comment. Yes, it must seem too simple if you’re a person who has suffered previous trauma. The people who recover quickly with support and good treatment are those fortunate people whose childhoods were not traumatic.(We hear of one-shot miracle EMDR sessions, for example, where the client is just fine after. Again these are “single incident traumas.” For the rest of us who had trauma in our childhoods, the traumatic incident in our adult lives reaches down and grabs onto the roots of early trauma. All the awful feeling gets stirred up again. We get re-traumatized.

    I hope I’ve answered you to your satisfaction.

    Thanks for bringing up this important issue.

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