Many Afghans are selling off their daughters

Many Afghans are selling off their daughters

In Afghanistan, growing numbers of fathers are selling off their daughters to wealthier families, to keep themselves afloat. As Jazz Shaw points out,

On the rare occasions that the mainstream media bothers to mention the situation in Afghanistan it generally involves the American citizens and Afghan helpers who still remain trapped there months after the disastrous pullout in August. But that’s far from the only ugliness unfolding in the country under the rule of the Taliban. The Afghan economy was never particularly strong even when the previous government was in charge, with many provinces regularly experiencing poverty and hunger. But once the Taliban took over, the entire system collapsed completely. There is very little money to go around anywhere (unless you’re a Taliban leader) and famine is endemic now. Work is very hard to find and the few available jobs barely pay anything to speak of. Many desperate families that have fallen into debt are making what sounds like an unthinkable decision. They are selling off their prepubescent daughters to wealthier families in exchange for a dowry to keep the rest of the family alive.

As NBC News reports:

The days are filled with hardships for children here in Shaidai, a desert community on the mountainous edge of Herat in western Afghanistan.

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Children like Benazir and her siblings beg on the streets, or collect garbage to heat their simple mud homes, because they don’t have enough money for wood.

Her father, Murad Khan, looks much older than his 55 years — his face worn with worry. A day laborer who hasn’t found work in months and with eight children to feed, his decision to sell Benazir to marriage at such a young age comes down to a cold calculation.

“We are 10 people in the family. I’m trying to keep 10 alive by sacrificing one,” he said in Pashto.

Benazir has been sold to a family in neighboring Iran for $2,000. That’s a lot of money in Afghanistan. She is only eight years old. When the family delivers the money to her father, she will be taken away to do domestic chores for them until she reaches puberty, at which point she will be married to one of the family’s sons. Benazir’s best friend Saliha is only seven, but she too has been sold off for marriage.

Saliha’s father has been unable to find work for months. Shopkeepers agreed to give him some food on credit, but only if he could show that he had a way to pay them back. To show that, he decided he had to sign a contract to sell his seven-year-old daughter.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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