Many Afghan parents have resorted to ‘marrying off’ their children, even babies, to save themselves from starving to death.
Brick kiln worker Fazal said that the country’s falling economy left him with no other choice but to marry off his 13-year-old and 15-year-old daughters to men more than twice their age.
He revealed that he received a $3,000 payment and that if their money runs out, he may be forced to marry off another daughter.
Speaking to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Fazal said: “I had no other way to feed my family and pay off my debt. What else could I have done?
“I desperately hope I won’t have to marry off my youngest daughter.”
According to reports, poverty and child marriage have increased in the country since the Taliban took over on August 15.
Women’s rights activists also said that many parents were also promising their newborn babies for future marriage in exchange for dowries.
Prominent Afghan women’s rights campaigner Wazhma Frogh said: “It paralyzes (my) heart hearing these stories.”
She also said that she often hears cases involving girls under the age of 10.
Crippled by imploding economy and drought, Afghanistan is set to become the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, U.N. agencies said.
U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said there were reports of families offering their babies as young as 20-days old for future marriage to get dowries.
They said millions are on the brink of starvation as winter sets in and more than 95 percent of families could fall below the poverty line by next year.
In northwest Afghanistan, another man had left his five children at a mosque as he could no longer feed them. The three young girls were married that same day.
“The number of cases has increased so much because of starvation. People have nothing and cannot feed their children,” Frogh said. “It’s completely illegal, and not allowed in religion.”
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