Child Brides & Other Women's Business


Girl, eight, sold to Afghan police officer as his bride… 

“Bride prices” are up to $20,000 and the big payers are those rich in opium, gangsters, middlemen and warlords.

  • After the case of a three-year-old girl who was being prepared for marriage in October 2007, Afghan officials promised to crack down on the practice. (I’m sure their promise is good as gold)

Girls are still sold as child brides inAfghanistan, despite laws banning the practice.

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Ten years after British forces entered the war-ravaged country, the Standard has uncovered shocking evidence of an eight-year-old girl who was married off to a policeman for cash. She was sold to the officer, in his twenties, in clear breach of laws introduced two years ago to protect women.

She was then the subject of a remarkable battle that symbolises the plight of girls in Afghanistan. Her story vividly highlights the failure to bring about social reforms in the stricken nation, despite the long presence of British forces.

It is revealed ahead of tomorrow’s 10th anniversary of the first air strikes on Afghanistan and is a grim reminder of how once-high hopes for democracy, modern justice and social progress there have been dashed.

It also comes a day after David Cameron renewed his promise to withdraw combat troops by the end of 2014. The Standard has been told disturbing details of the case by British advisers who are concerned that the girl is still in danger. They are angry that they are powerless to act.

The child was sold to a member of the Afghan border police, a state employee, within the past year by her father in the southern Helmand district of Garmsir. A price was agreed with the father and the marriage was duly solemnised in a ceremony with a mullah.

This was against Afghan state law on marriage but the ceremony gave legitimacy and status in the eyes of the communities and the families.

It was agreed in the deal that the groom would not have sex with the bride until she had passed puberty. Under current law, the legal lower age for marriage is 16.

After a few months, the father returned to the bridegroom’s family to complain. In breach of the contract, the husband had attempted sex with the child bride.

This was referred, with the help of international advisers and counsellors, to the legal authorities.

The public prosecutor and the Haquq, the local arbitrator and a key figure in community justice in Afghanistan, were requested to consider a prosecution against the abusive husband.

“The child was taken into custody,” said my source, a governance adviser from the international community.

“She was examined by a US Marine doctor and was found to have been interfered with.” At this point, the authorities decided this was a matter not for the law of Afghanistan but community and tribal custom.

The village elders decided that the husband had breached the agreement and so should pay the bigger bride price demanded by the father. They also ruled the child should return to her husband, whatever the risk to her health, happiness and even life.

In Afghanistan, despite the law against child brides, more than half of all girls are married before they turn 15, usually to settle disputes. On my recent visit of just under a month across Afghanistan – the third this year alone – I found that the trading of young girls as brides is far from rare.

“Bride prices” are up to $20,000 and the big payers are those rich in opium, gangsters, middlemen and warlords.

  • After the case of a three-year-old girl who was being prepared for marriage in October 2007, Afghan officials promised to crack down on the practice.

Tiny Sunam was pictured in a bridal veil as she was promised to her seven-year-old cousin Nieem. But the Standard has learned that such promises have not been honoured.

A Unicef study from 2000 to 2008 found that more than 43 per cent of women in Afghanistan were married under age, some before puberty.

In 2009 Human Rights Watch and Unifem, a UN agency, classified 57 per cent of all brides as under age, which is below 16. Despite the changes in the state law, not much seems to have changed since then because old tribal customs nearly always seem to trump the laws of the land – despite strenuous efforts by government and international agencies to educate tribal elders and local judicial figures, like the judge and the Haquq.

In 2009 an Elimination Of Violence Against Women law was passed. But this has only been implemented in 10 of the 34 provinces.

Now, in addition to concerns about Kabul turning a blind eye, Oxfam has issued a stark warning that if the Taliban comes back to power as part of a peace deal in Afghanistan, this could mean a catastrophic setback for the rights and fair treatment of women. Among them will be child brides.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of allied intervention to oust the Taliban regime and its al Qaeda sponsors from Kabul. But any fragile gains made by women since 2001 may now be endangered if the Taliban were to insist on their harsh interpretation of Sharia law as the condition for ceasing hostilities and entering a coalition government.

More than 380 UK soldiers have died fighting the Taliban in a bid to stop Afghanistan being a safe haven for terrorists. Al Qaeda has largely been forced out of the country and over the border into Pakistan.

British forces took part in the Allied air strikes against the Taliban on October 7. Royal Marines from 40 Commando were sent in to secure Bagram airfield, near the capital Kabul, the following month.

The first British casualty was Private Darren George, 23, of the Royal Anglian Regiment


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2 thoughts on “Child Brides & Other Women's Business”

  1. funny how the “feminists” of today never talk about this stuff! the San Francisco Bay Area is basically the “liberal progressive” capitol of the U.S. so of course anti-Israel sentiment is high here. but Israel does have it’s supporters here too who stand up to these islamonazi loving leftist social parasites. i recently put together a blog that like Gary’s is a video link collection of pro-Israel advocates having confrontations here in the S.F. Bay Area. you might be surprised at what you see. you’ve got a good blog here it speaks my language:

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