The daughter of one of Afghanistan’s most notorious serial killers has been living with her, in her jail cell, for her entire life. New York Times reporter Rod Nordland recently visited eleven-year-old Meena and her mother in prison.
Meena was born in Nangarhar provincial prison in 2006. Although she hasn’t committed a crime, Afghan prison policy allows mothers to keep their children in prison with them until they turn 18. In fact, Meena is only one of 36 children in the women’s wing of her prison, but her mother has a far longer sentence than any of the other women.
Meena’s mother is Shirin Gul, who was convicted of the murders of 27 Afghan men between 2001 and 2004. She, her lover, and several members of her family orchestrated a crime ring where she lured men to their house to be murdered and stole their valuables. The others in the ring were sentenced to death in 2005, but she became pregnant while on death row. Her sentence was eventually commuted to life in prison.
When Norland visited the pair last month, Meena showed the same interests and preoccupations as any other child her age. She talked about the dolls that she had made out of scrap fabric and spoke happily about her relationship with best friend Salma, age 10. She also proudly showed Norland pictures of her “father,” Gul’s lover and accomplice in her many murders.
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