Catholic Online, March 19, 2014
Afghanistan may lead the world in state-sanctioned pedophilia
At least 60 percent of all women are married as children
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A new report on human rights in Afghanistan released by the U.S. State Department reveals that girls as young as six can be "married" away or betrothed and are the victims of frequent sexual abuse from older men, sometimes within their own families.
Although the Taliban have a reputation for religious conservatism, that conservatism does nothing to protect women and girls from the sexual depredations of men. Women and girls are commonly victimized and those that speak out are likely to be blamed themselves, regardless of age differences.
Afghan law requires that girls be 16 before they can marry and boys 18. Such laws are rarely respected and about 60 percent of all girls are forced to marry before 16. Since most of the marriages in Afghanistan are unregistered and few people even have birth certificates, it is virtually impossible for the government to enforce the law.
A new report on human rights in Afghanistan released by the U.S. State Department reveals that girls as young as six can be "married" away or betrothed and are the victims of frequent sexual abuse from older men, sometimes within their own families.
Afghan law requires that girls be 16 before they can marry and boys 18. Such laws are rarely respected and about 60 percent of all girls are forced to marry before 16.
Catholic Online, Mar. 19, 2014
Other Afghan laws designed to protect women from abuse also have little enforcement.
In 2013, incidents of rape also increased in Afghanistan. Most of the victims were children.
The Taliban argue that restricting child marriages is "un-Islamic." In their culture, it is perfectly acceptable to marry children or to promise them in marriage. Traditionally a girl may be betrothed, but the marriages are supposed to be delayed until puberty. However, this is not always respected. Also, early onset of puberty can occur in some girls, sometimes as young as eight.
Not only are these girls younger and physically unable to engage in healthy sexual relationships within the context of marriage, they are also psychologically unprepared for marriage, sex, and motherhood.
Girls who are promised in marriage can also be abused by their own family, especially if the intended groom is also a child -the young boy cannot defend his child wife from the depredations of older men.
Child marriage is an ancient practice for the region and it is part of the dominant culture. Typically, money is exchanged for the bride-to-be. However, it is now understood that such practices are very harmful. Girls and women in these situations are usually treated poorly, with several being badly abused or even killed each year.
Given the Afghan government's lukewarm support of the official law and their inability to effectively rule outlying districts, it is unlikely these barbaric practices will change anytime soon.
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