Afghanistan Global Womens Rights

Starving Afghan Families Forced to Sell Their Daughters for Food

A recent CNN video features Afghan families who are unable to afford food at the displacement camps selling their daughters to old men in order to survive. The video shows a nine-year-old, Parwana, who was sold to a man as old as 70, for 200,000 Afghanis, approximately $2,200 on October 22.

The incidents took place in Qala-e-Naw, the capital of the province of Badghis, a region badly affected by the drought. In the video, Parwana says that her dream is to go to school and become a teacher, she cried and resisted as she is being taken from her family by the man who bought her for “marriage.”  The man told CNN that he bought her because her father was very poor and needed money for his family to buy food. He said that Parwana will work at his home and he won’t beat her and will be kind to her.

CNN also interviewed two other families who sold their daughters to cover their grocery bills and pay their debts. The families told CNN that they had no other choice but to pay with their daughters.

Although child marriage is not new in Afghanistan, war, poverty, the Taliban’s restrictions against women being employed, and climate change have caused vulnerable and desperate Afghan families to sell their daughters in recent years. According to leaders of the village and the displaced people’s camp, “numbers of young girls getting ‘betrothed’ started to rise during a 2018 famine and surged this year when the rains failed once more.”

The situation of the internally displaced people also got worse since the Taliban took over the country in August 2021, which has caused more insecurity for aid workers, higher levels of unemployment, and a reduction in international aid. According to the UN, banning women in the workplace has increased poverty in Afghanistan.  According to the World Food Program (WFP), more than half of the population of Afghanistan, around 22.8 million people, will face acute food insecurity starting this month.

Sources: CNN 11/1/21; World Food Programme

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