Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Afghan Women Sold Like Cattle

It's obvious that women are considered second class citizens in many Muslim-majority countries, where they have fewer rights and freedoms than males. But in God-forsaken Afghanistan they are looked upon as commodities to be traded or sold like animals to the highest bidder. And it's not cheap to buy a wife/slave/maid, the women often fetch a good price, at least by Afghan standards. And although illegal to buy and sell women, it still happens all the time.
Hajji Rais Khan, a white bearded resident of Nangarhar’s Dur Baba district, needed only to remove his false teeth and hand over 3,000 dollars to conclude the swift purchase of a young woman for his bride.

Two other local families had quarrelled over the terms of an already implemented swap of daughters for brides. One of the fathers then learned that instead of the girls being returned home by mutual arrangement, his counterpart had simply sold on his 20-year-old daughter to an old man for 4,000 dollars. He vowed in retaliation to sell the girl in his care to “a man with no teeth”.

“I went there and removed my plastic teeth and told the man that my wife passed away two months ago and that this girl was my destiny,” said Khan. “He gave her to me for 150,000 afghanis (3,000 dollars).”

A disturbing aberration perhaps, were it not for numerous and corroborated accounts of such sales of women like livestock. These are distinct from the entrenched Afghan custom of arranged marriages for fixed dowries, and often result in the victim being sold into a life of drudgery or passed on to further buyers.

A widespread practice in bygone times, the purchase and sale of women is today not uncommon in six of Nangarhar's districts inhabited by members of the large Shinwari tribe, say officials and rights advocates.

“Women are sold in different districts of Shinwari (areas) of Nangarhar and we have taken up cases on various occasions,” said Sabrina Hamidi, the director of the women’s rights advocacy department at the Independent Human Rights Commission in the eastern region.

“I removed my plastic teeth and told the man that my wife passed away two months ago and this girl was my destiny. He gave her to me for 150,000 afghanis."

The practice continued as a result of “illiteracy, poverty and abhorrent traditions,” said Hamidi.

And after women are sold, contact is usually severed with their own family, often for the rest of their lives, which makes the women extremely vulnerable . Once sold, the woman effectively belongs to her buyer, his to work, abuse or resell as he sees fit.

Read the rest here.

I don't see any hope for women in Afghanistan, especially once NATO pulls out.

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