Selling your daughter to survive: the plight of Afghan forced marriage

Selling your daughter to survive: the plight of Afghan forced marriage

  • Published on
    January 15, 2024
  • Category:
    Forced Marriage
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Heartbreaking stories shared by the Washington Post reveal the devastating impact of forced child marriages on vulnerable Afghan children. In the face of extreme poverty, parents, grappling with financial desperation, are compelled to sell their daughters, some as young as six, to survive.

Child brides as young as six

The lives of five young girls – Khoshbakht, Saliha, Fawzia, Benazir, and Nazia – are profoundly shaped by the grim realities of forced child marriages. All of them were sold into marriage before the age of nine. They were sold by their parents, who didn’t see another way out of hunger and poverty. If they wanted their families to survive, selling their daughters was the only way to do so.

“I sold my daughter due to poverty and hunger to save the life of the others. I feel guilty but I had no other choice.” – Mohammed Khan, Saliha’s father

Afghan child marriages under Taliban regime

Stories like these are not uncommon in Afghanistan. In the settlement of Shahrak-e-Sabz, 40% of families interviewed by the non-profit organization Too Young to Wed, are compelled by desperation and harsh conditions to sell their young daughters into marriage. Despite the Taliban’s decree against viewing women as “property,” child marriages have surged due to economic collapse and restrictions on girls’ education beyond the sixth grade.

Nazul’s mother regrets selling her daughter, but it was the only way to survive. “We didn’t have anything, not even a mattress. I was forced to sell my daughter.”

Families, facing dire circumstances, see the $2,000 bride price as a desperate means of sustaining themselves for a year. This grim solution forces young brides into a life of housework and abuse, exacerbating the already challenging conditions in the settlement. Escalating rates of suicide and depression among Afghan teenage girls underscore the profound impact of these circumstances on the mental health and well-being of the young brides, painting a bleak picture of the broader social repercussions.

Join the fight to end forced child marriage

We don’t and will never accept that young children are married off against their will, in Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world. Sign our petition and demand an end to forced marriage!


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Barbara Aryan
Barbara Aryan
4 months ago

Disgraceful situations resulting from Taliban rules.

4 months ago

By what miracle is the girl’s family getting the bride price in a country supposedly ruled by shariah law? The money is supposed to be a mahr, not a bride price, and it is supposed to go to the girl, not to her family. The Qur’an also says that both men and women are supposed to study. The hypocrisy is just unbelievable.

Last edited 4 months ago by Karol
4 months ago

Perverse and sickening!! No CHILD is ready in anyway to be married !! It’s unthinkable!!

Ginny mkinney
Ginny mkinney
4 months ago

Desperation, there are few of us in the Western world who can truly understand that emotion. So in commenting we often are doing it from a place of ignorance. But I’ll comment anyway. The regime that exists in Afghanistan sees women as reproducers and then carers for those produced. When the US left there had been 20 (?) Years of female emancipation through education and freedom to work. Maybe more should have been done to change the
perspective of the males. Too late?

Felicity Dobson
4 months ago

It is a deeply sickening situation. I realise it exists, but it is what happened years ago! And now it is going on in this day and age?! It is totally illegal, and the Taliban are evil personified: the devil incarnate. It makes my blood run cold, and I feel immense pity for anyone under a Taliban regime.

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