On a summer night in Kabul, Afghanistan, 19-year-old Gulnaz is bound, gagged, and raped on the kitchen floor by her uncle. She tells no one of this crime, afraid that her family will punish her for this shameful act. But when a doctor discovers she is pregnant, she is forced to confess what happened. She is arrested, charged, and imprisoned for “forced adultery.”
But the courts give her a path to freedom – marry her uncle and become his second wife, and she will be released from prison. She refuses.
Instead, Gulnaz decides to speak to the press. Her story ignites a media firestorm. Represented by American lawyer Kim Motley, her case goes all the way to President Karzai, who bows to international pressure and grants her an unprecedented pardon.
But after she is freed from prison, Gulnaz languishes in a women’s shelter, disowned by her family and unable to leave because none of her male relatives will claim her. She faces a terrible choice: flee the country that imprisoned her and seek asylum abroad, or marry the man who raped her in order to give their daughter a future that has been taken from her.
Farida, forced to marry an older man she had never met, suffered horrible mental and physical abuse at his hands over the course of ten years of marriage. His beatings caused her to suffer five miscarriages, and he would regularly sleep with young male prostitutes in the house they shared. She finally seeks freedom by running away with Rahme Khoda, the man she loves.
But nowhere in Afghanistan is safe for a young couple suspected of sin. They are hunted down and thrown into prison, separated once again by a prison wall.
Farida’s lawyer Shakib fights valiantly against a court system that seeks to punish her transgression under tribal law. Her only chance for freedom is to convince her husband to grant her a divorce. But in a society where women are traded like cattle, this will come at a steep price.
Featuring exclusive access and never before seen footage from inside Afghanistan’s prisons, With This Breath I Fly takes you behind the headlines and the shocking statistics to investigate these two personal stories of hope and indomitable courage.