Afghan dad sells 9 year old daughter to buy food for his starving family as the nation’s economy is now on the brink with the drying up of humanitarian aid since the Taliban coming into power.
Abdul Malik broke down in tears last week on the day of the sale of his daughter, Parwana Malik, to a 55-year-old buyer named Qorban, CNN reported.
‘This is your bride. Please take care of her — you are responsible for her now, please don’t beat her,’ told the weeping father.
The family lives in an Afghan displacement camp in the northwestern Badghis province.
Malik said that he felt ‘broken’ with guilt, shame and worry over giving away his daughter, but ultimately he believed that he had no choice but to go through with the sale.
Young girls weep in anticipation of being sold off as child brides
He said that he had already borrowed ‘lots of money’ from relatives and looked unsuccessfully for employment, while his wife had resorted to begging for food.
‘We are eight family members,’ the father told CNN. ‘I have to sell to keep other family members alive.’
In exchange for the girl, Qorban paid 200,000 Afghanis in the form of sheep, land and cash.
He said that he doesn’t intend to marry the child, but to have her work in his household.
‘(Parwana) was cheap, and her father was very poor and he needs money,’ Qorban told the CNN. ‘She will be working in my home. I won’t beat her. I will treat her like a family member. I will be kind.’
One girl, aged 10, spends her days crying as she waits for the day she is sold to a 70-year-old man to help her family pay off their debts.
Another nine-member family is preparing to sell their four-year-old and nine-year-old daughters to have enough money for food.
Humanitarian aid placed on hold affecting families
‘Day by day, the numbers are increasing of families selling their children,’ human rights activist Mohammad Naiem Nazem told CNN. ‘Lack of food, lack of work, the families feel they have to do this.’
With the arrival of the Taliban, Afghan’s economy is now on the brink of collapse along with international humanitarian aid being put on hold – with the effects being deeply felt by many impoverished families who cannot buy basic goods such as food and who are now resorting to selling young daughters to survive.
With a third of the population surviving on less than $2 per day, an increasing number of families are turning to the illegal practice of selling their children under the age of 15. There appears no end in sight as fathers like Abdul Malik resort to selling young female members to older men as child brides.
Human rights activists warn once a young female is sold off as a child bride, she is extremely unlikely to continue her education, and will often be forced to be ‘physical’ with their buyers.
The humanitarian crisis stretches across Afghanistan and affects at least 18 million people, or half the country’s population. Many are now left to collect plastic bottles to recycle or sell to earn enough money for food.
There is mounting frustration among experts who argue that holding back international aid is not affecting the Taliban – but the poor.
Isabelle Moussard Carlsen, head of office at UNOCHA, told CNN: ‘By not releasing the (development) funds that they are holding from the Taliban government, it’s the vulnerable, it’s the poor, it’s these young girls who are suffering.’