By Shakila Abrahimkhil
The sale and exchange of women as goods is rampant in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province with as many as two women traded per day, according to the findings of a sociology researcher.
In a report obtained by TOLOnews, researcher Assadullah Ahmadi stated that he found some women had been traded up to five times in three Nangarhar districts – Rodat, Mohmand, and Shinwar – as part of the socially-accepted use of wives and daughters as possessions.
"It is [happening] in Mohmand and Rodad, and all of the Shinwar, and the spot of sale is the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan," Ahmadi said.
In his report, Ahmadi says that the eastern Afghan women were often sold across the border into Pakistan and usually for less than the cost of a mule.
"There are even women that have been sold three to five times and in some cases sold along with their daughters. When we went to them, we came to know their price is less than a mule," he said.
Shakila, 10, was abducted and held for about a year as part of a traditional Afghan form of justice known as "baad." (Photo: Andrea Bruce/The New York Times)
Afghanistan's Ministry of Hajj and Islamic Affairs on Saturday told TOLOnews that it is aware of women being sold in Afghanistan and especially in eastern Nangarhar province, stating that it is a cultural practice that even the clerics are not capable of preventing.
"There is no doubt that women are being sold, and for three reasons: past practices, poverty, and illiteracy. The women whose husbands doubt them, the women that are not liked by their husbands, and the women whose husbands are poor are sold. However they are not sold as servants but they do the Nikah," said Dai-ul-Haq Abed, deputy minister of Hajj and Religious Affairs.
The Nikah is the temporary or fixed-term marriage allowed in Islam under certain conditions.
"In a discussion with the Hajj and Religious Affairs of Shinwar, they told us that it's a very ingrained trend. We have tried to work on this issue through Islamic means. The phenomenon is decreasing but not eradicated," Abed added.
The Nangarhar provincial council also acknowledged it was a problem, saying that for years women have been sold in Shinwar and that elders of the tribe are involved.
"The selling of women has been out there in the past and now. One who overlooks this matter, overlooks the truth," said Mofti Moeen Shah, a member of the provincial council.
"In our tribe of Shinwari, they do it [sell the woman] when the husband dies," he added.
According to the council, aside from being traded for money, girls as young as five-years-old are given to victims of crimes committed by the girl's family member. After receiving her, the victim will often sell the girl and keep the money.
"In districts of Nangarhar, there are married women between ages of 16 to 80 who are sold when either her husband needs money or wants to marry another girl," said Angiza Shinwari, a member of the provincial council.
"This practice has been done for years now, and it has recently increased because there is no rule of law and there is no punishment of the criminals," she added.
However Nangarhar deputy governor Mohammad Hanif Gardiwal, while admitting that there was abuse of women, rejected that they were being sold.
"[We accept that] ill-treatment of women is present. We have acted against it with officials from districts, education department, and the clerics so that they can make people and the youth understand that women cannot be sold or given as 'baad' [traded in return for crimes]," he said.