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9-Year-Old Brides Traded For Food in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, a startling trend is emerging. Recently a family of a 13-year-old girl received 40,000 Afghani ($800) for allowing the girl to marry her father's cousin, and nine-year-old brides are traded for wheat and two cows. As a result of the trend of young girls being sold into marriage, midwives are helping girls as young as 10 years old deliver babies, only to see many mothers perish in childbirth.

These child brides are being sold in Afghanistan not because of religion or tradition, but because of poverty. Many people live in remote villages, separated from the nearest town by weeks of travel and massive snow. Many Afghanis are dying from hunger and cold. Local and global food shortages have caused the price of food to double, with no relief in sight.

In these circumstances, parents feel marriage is the only way to save their daughters.

We've been hearing a lot about child brides and mothers on a Texas compound associated with the FLDS. Do you have a different reaction to the situation in Afghanistan?


Join The Conversation
Zorg95 Zorg95 9 years
I really dont feel the two places can be compared at all. Ones plain evil, the other is simply heartbreaking. Texas is at home in pretty much the most powerful and civilised country in the world, so in that context its just plain evil. Afghanistan on the other hand is a country ravaged by war for the past couple for the decades, whether due to civil war or against the Soviets (America vs Russia anyone?) and when they did the job promptly abandoned by the rest of the world. The people are utterly uneducated, illiterate and lack any infrastructure to really even function in the modern world let alone interpret the tenets of their religion in any sensible manner. They are literally living in medieval times just with loads more guns. Its a place where five year olds are put into rehab after becoming addicted to crack since their mothers breathed opiom smoke onto them to stop them feeling hungry. That children are sold for food here is not surprising, we should just be glad that the world now knows and maybe something can be done to help these people, but the fact that most of our nations have ignored Africa pretty much for the last 20 years i doubt things will change much. Sorry for the long message but i just found this too heartbreaking not to make an effort.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
Jude: That was an example of something pro-western, and potentially destabilizing to the Taliban. I included it because I ASSumed (yes, I did) that there was a significant segment of Afghanistan Christians who were discriminated against, but I just checked myself, and Wikipedia says that it's 99% Muslim. I had hoped it would present a alternative to a religion which considers child brides acceptable. Given what I just found, though, I'd have to reconsider that. lily: IMO it's even *more* disgusting here in the US. It's further from our social norms, and not driven by survival instinct as it is in Afghanistan.
lily8206 lily8206 9 years
I agree, a child-bride is a child-bride. Disgusting.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
Lainetm, I'm curious--why do you think it would be good to include Bibles with the food and other aid? I'd think that that might anger the powers in control there more.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
The two situations don't really compare. American parents have options unavailable to Afghanis living in remote, isolated areas. Those women made a *conscious choice* to join and remain in the FLDS compound. Also, marrying off young daughters to older men is a part of Afghani and Islamic culture. As I stress to my kids, it's unfair to judge people in different cultures or eras by our current standards. Of course, that doesn't make it right. Why can't the UN and other humanitarian organizations air-lift food and supplies into those remote regions? Maybe with some Bibles and/or pro-Western literature packed in? I would think that would be one of the best ways to discredit the re-emerging Taliban.
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
Oh my godness. When I got to the "10-year-olds having babies" part, I literally had to go vomit. I can't even think about it too long, or I'm sure I'd break into pieces.
Matdredalia Matdredalia 9 years
Jennifer76 - I don't think that this can be blamed on the US in any manner of speaking. These people are making a choice to sell their daughters, and sadly, things like this have been going on all over the world, long before we stepped foot in Afghanistan. The underground sex trade runs rampant in the Middle East, Africa, & much of the Eastern world, especially India. Women and girls are sold to men who round them up and sell them to Madame's at wh*re houses or even to men for "personal" use. Many times these parents do it because they think their daughters will have a better life, but they don't. Most of these people have no idea exactly what they're selling their children into in the case of the sex market. They think their daughters are going to work as waitresses, and then they never hear from their child again. However, the parents in Afghanistan seem to realize they're marrying their daughters off to grown men, and that is why I am absolutely disgusted with them. They know what they're sending their daughters into and yet they care more about themselves than their children. You can't blame these peoples selfishness and terrible judgment on the United States.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
Thank you Jennifer76, that was exactly my point. I love Gwen too b-t-w!
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
This is heartbreaking tragedy. I don't know if it's even possible to get aid into some of these extremely remote areas, but I sure hope we (meaning the world) try. hartsfull - I remember the same article. That was when I first started supporting RAWA. Nyaradzom - This isn't change. This is something that has been happening in remote parts of Afghanistan for a very long time. Life in urban Afghanistan is a million times different now than it was 30 years ago, but war with the Soviets, then warring Afghan factions and then Taliban rule brought an end to all that. Not everything can be blamed on the US.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
I think they misunderstood when we told them we were bringing them a "market economy". Not everything's for sale, guys.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
It's a shame that the leaders of these countries live in such opulence. How many mansions does one ruler need? 2? 5? 20? Why is it the leader has more than enough, and yet his people starve? And we criticize our leaders for seeming out of touch.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
I remember reading about this stuff back in '99'. There was an article (sorry, I can't remember the magazine. I want to say Glamour???) about the represion of women in Afghanistan. The Taliban was raping women and children. Fathers, were selling their daughters not as brides but prostitutes. The article was for our awareness of what was happening there. It was basically a plea for help. I can' remember the whole article because it was so long ago. But, I do remember two years later after 9/11 everyone was talking about the Taliban.
megnmac megnmac 9 years
This is just heartbreaking, but I have the same reaction to the individual FLDS stories. They are all real people too, trying their best to give their children good lives. Not all the people there have the same feelings about the child brides - mothers don't have a say in whether their daughter is going to be given to a good or bad man, and they don't have a say of how young their daughter will be when she is married off. It isn't just blind faith for everyone, it is sometimes a choice of survival - and a consideration of their child's eternal soul, since only by doing what they are told will they be rewarded in heaven. These are weighty decisions and very real ones for those parents. Like any group, there is difficulty sometimes when these people who share a core faith system do not always understand the specific actions of their prophet.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
Nothing has changed much since the taliban were toppled. How many years ago was that?? It's at times like this I want to smack people who are like we bought a change to Afghanistan life is better than it was under Osama blah blah blah right in the kisser. Is this the change people are talking about? Disgusting!!!
hottpink hottpink 9 years
This is just wrong, sad, shocking and disgusting! And...10 year old girls having kids??? I guess I was just a late bloomer but I could not have gotten pregnant at 10!!!
Fushaa Fushaa 9 years
It's a sad story in both cases. I think it's wrong either way but it seems like Afghan people feel they have no other choice for suvival. They are selling their children in exchange for food and they believe this is the best way to keep them alive, not necessarily because they think it is the right thing to do. The people on the Texas compound however seem to think it is ok, or at least that's they way they are portrayed in the news. I feel like we can't really judge these people. It's not like we have provided a better way and they have refused it, they really feel that they have no other choice.
tiabia tiabia 9 years
My reaction was pretty much the same...shock, disgust and anger. And I agree, a child-bride is a child-bride.
dmpls83 dmpls83 9 years
i am awesomeness: a grown man marrying a child is unacceptable. (and it will ALWAYS be unacceptable)( and a 16 year old is a child..) no matter what their beliefs. people can't just "let them be" because it's what they believe. as for the afghan situation, it's just sad. and disgusting and well it's sad that they have to resort to that to try and "save" themselves from hunger. i know i am VERY lucky to be where i am and thank God for it all the time..
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
This is so terrible and tragic. It absolutely pulls back the curtains on so many interrelated problems in the region and globally.
Bisque Bisque 9 years
I just read an article tackling the same issue in BBC two days ago: , it's just heartbreaking, but what I do wonder is that in the mother's quote of saying that it is their daughters fate if they are thinking of their next meal more than the child's welfare.
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
This is truly disturbing. I don't even know what to say. Crimes against children are the worst. Disgusting.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
I believe the men buying the little girls should hold much of the blame. They are not FORCED to buy a child out of poverty.
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
The story in Afghanistan is much different because the families do not want to do this to their daughters. They do this because daughters traditionally have less value because they leave the family, do not pass on the family name, and just plain can't work in the fields like the boys. They would end up marrying their daughters off young anyway, but not as young(at least in their teens). The pace is just accelerated because of their extreme poverty. In the Texas situation, the families make a willing decision to marry their daughters off, etc. They do it for their religion, which is a reason if there ever was one, but it has nothing to do with literal survival. This is for their religion, so just leave them be. They have their own compound and little city to stay away from the world. Just leave them be. People will die to follow their religious beliefs and the government will not be able to stop them if they are truly passionate about their beliefs. It's just unfortunate that the Afghanis(and children from many many other countries) have to go through this.
Matdredalia Matdredalia 9 years
Child brides are child brides. It's sick, disgusting, and wrong. Children should not be getting married off, especially not against their will. And I'm sorry but a 9 year old can not give consent. Disgusting and wrong.
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 9 years
I agree w/ stephly. This is such a terrible thing and it makes it more sad b/c they are doing this for survival.
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