How Much Is a Little Girl’s Life Worth?

Touran Nazargahi (+Video)


A young girl’s life is sacrificed for her parents’ greed. Thinking back on the story many years later, a relative reflects on how little has changed for women.


She was lying in the hospital bed in the children’s ward. When I saw her, the first thing that caught my eye was a pair of girls’ shoes near her head on the bed. They were red high heels. I was wondering if she had been wearing them when she entered the hospital.

When I looked at her mother sitting there sadly, I couldn’t believe a mother could do this to her own child. Would my mother ever do this to me? Of course not. Never. My mother was far and away a better and kinder mother.

This pretty girl was my childhood playmate. We were ten. She told me earlier that she liked those shoes, but her parents didn’t buy them for her because they thought a village was not a place to wear high heels. Moreover, they were too expensive for a farming family. But now they bought them for her and brought her to the hospital.

This happened because thirty years ago, in a distant village in Kurdistan, two brothers fought over a right of way. Even now, it seems strange to me to have to fight for your right.

The elder brother was a peaceful and kind man, but the younger brother was, like his wife, cruel and greedy. These two brothers were fighting over just a few metres of land. They were neighbours, their land next to each other. The elder brother had no way to connect to the main road except through the younger brother’s land. They had been fighting for twenty years and couldn’t find a solution. Finally, the elder brother went to court. The court sent inspectors to the village to investigate the situation.

The younger brother’s wife came up with a plan. On the day the inspectors were supposed to come, she was going to accuse the elder brother of murder. To do this, she planned to sacrifice her own daughter.

This is what happened. When all people were gathering to hear the inspector’s judgment, this woman tried to push her daughter into the river. But the young girl grabbed hold of a tree and didn’t let go no matter how hard her mother tried to tear her away. The girl fought for her life.
Eventually, the stupid woman ended up throwing herself into the river. And who jumped in and rescued her? The elder brother.

After the commotion had died down, the inspectors left without delivering a verdict. That night the little girl fell sick and was admitted to the hospital. Unfortunately, a few days later, she passed away from the trauma of her mother trying to kill her. She never had a chance to wear those pretty red shoes that were near her head in the hospital bed.

Even though this story happened thirty years ago, I am still thinking about how cheap life was. It could be taken away for just a few metres of land.

I once had the same dream of having red high heel shoes, which until now I don’t have. Before I came to Canada, I went out with my brother to buy shoes for my journey. I selected red high heels—maybe because I still remembered my childhood friend. I thought maybe I could wear them here in Canada. But my brother looked at me with disapproval and said, “Don’t you think you are too old to wear red shoes?”

Touran Nazargahi was born in Iran and grew up in Sanandaj where she was a devoted teacher and yoga instructor. She came as a refugee to Canada in 2019. Her dream is to join the UN to teach and help more children to have a better education.

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