The latest news from there, from British weekly The Observer:
Starving Afghans sell girls of eight as brides
Villagers whose crops have failed after a second devastating drought are giving their young daughters in marriage to raise money for food
Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor
Sunday January 7, 2007
Azizgul is 10 years old, from the village of Houscha in western Afghanistan. This year the wheat crop failed again following a devastating drought. Her family was hungry.
So, a little before Christmas, Azizgul’s mother ‘sold’ her to be married to a 13-year-old boy.
‘I need to sell my daughters because of the drought,’ said her mother Sahatgul, 30.
‘We don’t have enough food and the bride price will enable us to buy food. Three months ago my 15-year-old daughter married.
‘We were not so desperate before. Now I have to marry them younger.
And all five of them will have to get married if the drought becomes worse. The bride price is 200,000 afghanis [£2,000]. His father came to our house to arrange it. The boy pays in instalments. First he paid us 5,000 afghanis, which I used to buy food.’
Azizgul is not unique. Hers is one of a number of interviews and case studies collected by the charity Christian Aid – all of them young girls sold by their families to cope with the second ruinous drought to hit Afghanistan within three years. …
While prohibited by both Afghan civil and Islamic law, arranged marriages have long been a feature of Afghan life, particularly in rural areas.
What is unusual is the age of some of the girls. And the reason: to buy food to survive.
‘Many families are doing this because of the drought,’ Sahatgul said. ‘Our daughters are our only economic asset.
The groom, Rahim, has gone to Iran with his brothers to earn the money. …
He is working on a building site. He will come back with the rest of the money that he has earned or borrowed. He calls us every month to make sure that Azizgul is still his.’
Najibullah, 39, is a farmer. He sold his eight-year-old daughter Somaya for $3,000 (£1,560). She is engaged to a 22-year-old man from the village, Mohammed, who has also gone to Iran to earn the money to pay the bride price.
‘He has already paid a deposit of $600, which we used to buy warm clothes and food,’ said Najibullah.
For her part, Somaya knows she is getting married but does not know what that means.
Women in the ‘new’ Afghanistan: here.
Most Afghan girls not going to school: here.
GAMBIA BANS CHILD MARRIAGE “Gambia called for an immediate ban on child marriage on Friday and will punish parents, spouses and involved religious leaders who violate the law, according to reports. … In the West African country, 46.5 percent of girls marry before they turn 18, according to UNICEF.” [HuffPost]