The Deccan Chronicle, July 11, 2007


Afghan girls used for settling debts

Girls are traded like currency in Afghanistan and forced marriages are common

Jalalabad: Unable to scrounge together the $165he needed to repay a loan to buy sheep, Nazir Ahmad made good on his debt by selling his 16-year-old daughter to marry the lender's son.

Saima: the victim ( http://www.rawa.org/samia.htm )
RAWA Photo: Saima - a victim of 'bad'

"He gave me nine sheep," Mr Ahmad said, describing his family's woes since taking the loan. "Because of nine sheep, I gave away my daughter." Seated beside him in the cramped compound, his daughter Malia's eyes filled with tears. She used a black scarf to wipe themaway. Despite advances in women's rights and at least one tribe's move to outlaw the practice, girls are traded like currency in Afghanistan and forced marriages are common. Antiquated tribal laws authorise the practice known as "bad" in the Afghan language Dari and girls are used to settle disputes ranging from debts to murder.

Such exchanges bypass the hefty bride price of a traditional betrothal, which can cost upward of $1,000. Roughly two out of five Afghan marriages are forced, says the country's ministry of women's affairs.

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