An Afghan man was all set to sell off his 6-year-old daughter to pay his debt. The cases of child marriages in Afghanistan are very common but this particular story stands out because the little girl, Naghma, was rescued in time and got to stay at her parents’ house.
Taj Mohammed, Naghma’s father, was to pay back a large sum of money to a fellow refugee camp resident. Mohammed took the loan for the medical treatment of his wife and nine of his children including one who froze to death. Since the man was not able to pay the lender, he then resorted to what many men in Afghanistan eventually end up doing when they don’t have money.
Mohammad decided to sell off his daughter by getting her married to the lender’s 17-year-old son. Thanks to the $25,000 that came from an anonymous donor to Naghma’s family and the debt was paid. The little girl didn’t have to marry and was allowed to live with her parents.
According to Manizha Naderi, the executive director of a shelter group Women For Afghan Women, the root cause of early and forced marriages is poverty. A recent case of a forced child marriage was about a 15-year-old girl in Afghanistan who was brutally tortured by her in-laws for six months and was rescued afterwards. Though in her case, she received justice, which is quite an uncommon occurrence.
Daughters have been replacing cash in Afghanistan, India and many other developing countries for centuries. Whenever a man is not able to pay his dues and has no other option to settle the matter, he is advised to marry off his daughter or sister to any male member of the other party. Age doesn’t count in such marriages. It doesn’t matter if the girl is a six-year-old and the prospective groom is a ninety-year-old man... the debt has to be paid at any cost (and age). Consequently, the unfortunate little girl is deprived of her education and childhood. But no one cares since a woman is worth nothing in the eyes of these patriarchal societies.