Wednesday, January 30, 2013

6 Year-Old Afghan Girl Sold As Child Bride

Combine ignorance with poverty and the selling and buying of child brides becomes a common occurrence in places like Afghanistan, even in spite of it being illegal to do so.

Taj Mohammed lives in the Qambar refugee camp near Kabul. He borrowed $2,500 from a distant relative to help his family during the long cold winter. The relative reneged on the loan asking for the money back, Mohammed didn't have it, so in lieu of repaying the debt, the distant relative gets Mohammed's 6 year-old daughter, Naghma, for his 16-year-old son.

He says he was struggling to come to terms with the loss of his three-year-old son and an uncle, both of whom died in the cold earlier this month, when the distant relative sent a message demanding his money back.

"He wanted his money back. But I couldn't pay. No-one would lend money to me," he says.

"Then a relative suggested that I give my daughter in lieu of money."

Naghma is too young to understand the ramifications of her father's decision.

"She only cries when we talk to her about it," Mr Mohammad says.

"If I can give my relative some money, then I can delay the marriage until Naghma is 14 or 16 years old."

The distant relative, Dost Mohammed, lives in the same camp as Taj and knows it's illegal.

"The government doesn't allow it," he says, but adds quickly: "I consulted the tribal elders and this is their decision."

Tribal mentality trumps

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