According to the UNFPA, “In developing countries, one in every three girls is married before reaching age 18. One in nine is married under age 15.” Child marriage is a human rights violation and outlawed in most countries, but unfortunately, young girls from impoverished families are often traded to older men for much-needed resources like food, livestock, and money. These girls are more likely to experience physical and sexual abuse, have high-risk pregnancies, or become domestic slaves.
1. 6-year-old girl was a “religious offering”
Last month in Afghanistan, 60-year-old Said Mohammed Karim was arrested after marrying a 6-year-old girl at a ceremony attended by 30-40 friends and family members. Karim, a religious authority known in Afghanistan as a “mullah”, insisted the girl was given by her father as a religious offering. Karim is currently in jail. Afghan law states girls under 16 can be married if permission is given by the father or a judge.
2. 6-year-old girl was traded for a goat
In a similar recent story from Afghanistan, 55-year-old mullah Seyed Abdolkarim was given 6-year-old Gharibdol in exchange for a goat, rice, tea, sugar and cooking oil. Following the arrest of Abdolkarim, the girl’s father admitted he had traded the girl out of desperation for food. Apparently the man had agreed not to have sexual relations with her until she was 18. Mail Online reported “46.4 per cent of Afghan marriages take place before the women turn 18”.
3. Teenager traded so her father could take another wife
14-year-old Saima Ramzan was traded to a much older, mentally disabled man unable to hear or speak, in exchange for her father to take a second wife. “We gave a girl in this family for a girl in their family. That is our right.” said Wazir Ahmed to the Associated Press.
4. Girls traded to pay off opium debts
The book, “Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords, and One Woman’s Journey Through Afghanistan” by Fariba Nawa details numerous cases of child brides given up to dangerous drug cartel members in exchange for pardoning loans given for production of opium poppies.
5. 13-year-old traded for 50 cattle
In South Sudan, 13-year-old Eliza was traded to a 35-year-old man for the price of 50 cattle. Years later, the girl recounted her story, saying “The worst part was having sex. I don’t know what he wanted from me and it was so painful.” More than half of girls in South Sudan are married before age 18.
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