Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Selling girls as child brides in Taliban-Controlled Afghanistan raises concerns

Immigration News

Fidel Rahmati
Fidel Rahmati
Fidai Rahmati is the editor and content writer for Khaama Press. You may follow him at Twitter @FidelRahmati

Written By: Tabasum Nasiry

The increase in forced marriages and underage marriages of girls in Afghanistan has become one of the most serious concerns. The Washington Post’s report on this issue indicates that child marriages have significantly increased throughout Afghanistan due to poverty and educational prohibitions.

On Monday, January 15, The Washington Post, in collaboration with the “Too Young to Wed” organization, published an article titled “In Afghanistan, either sell your daughter or endure hunger.”

This report tells the stories of 118 girls who have been forced into child marriages in the Herat province’s Sabz village, and 116 other families waiting for buyers for their underage daughters.

According to this report, families are forced to sell their daughters not only due to economic collapse but also due to increasing restrictions and educational prohibitions. They hoped their daughters could find good jobs and contribute to the family’s income through education.

However, Taranum Saeedi, a women’s rights activist, speaking to The Washington Post, said that the closure of schools has left over a million adolescent girls without education. She emphasized that these deprivations have caused “irreparable crises and destinies” that have led families to consider marrying off their daughters in exchange for education.

Ms. Saeedi told The Washington Post, “Lack of awareness, incorrect traditions, the dominance of religious leaders and fatwas, poverty, and families’ desperation – all contribute to forcing girls into forced and underage marriages.”

She stressed that underage marriages have been prevalent in Afghanistan and most Islamic countries for a long time, with the main reason being to reach the legal age of nine, which is considered the age of religious maturity.

According to The Washington Post, child marriages in Afghanistan have increased, and parents are forced to sell their daughters for as little as $2,000 to provide food for the rest of the family.

The report also warns that girls forced into marriage between the ages of eight and ten are exposed to verbal, physical, and sexual abuse after marriage.

Saleha is one of the girls who was sold into marriage at the age of seven three years ago, and her father told The Washington Post, “I sold my daughter because of poverty and hunger to save others’ lives.”

He said, “I feel guilty, but I had no other choice.” However, this arrangement was later annulled with the help of the “Too Young to Wed” organization, and Saleha is now attending school.

Khushbakht, another girl who was sold into marriage for 150,000 Afghanis two years ago, says, “I want to be with my mother.”

Underage and forced marriages are serious concerns that have increased following the rise of the Taliban regime due to what is called “the prohibition of girls’ education.”

Earlier, the United States Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reported statistics stating that after 2021, 35% of girls in Afghanistan were married before reaching the age of 18, and 17% were married before reaching the age of 15.

SIGAR emphasized that 578 cases of forced marriages were recorded between December 2022 and February 2023, with 361 of them involving marriages at a young age.

Stephanie Sinclair is a renowned photographer who founded an organization called “Too Young to wed” to persuade families to prevent marriages of underage girls.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also attributes the increase in forced marriages in South Asia, including Afghanistan, to the economic difficulties of families and the prohibition of girls’ education.

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