Sagar was born in Afghanistan’s Farah province and attended one year of school when she was seven. But the family fled to Iran during the Taliban years, and when she was only 13, the girl’s father arranged for her to marry her mother’s cousin, Akbar.

The wedding took place just after she turned 14. Akbar was ten years older, but he was jobless and illiterate. After paying Sagar’s father the bride price and paying for the wedding, Akbar had no money left to support them. The young girl worried. She asked herself, “What has happened to my life?”

Every night they went to bed without dinner. With nothing to eat, after a year they decided to return to Afghanistan. But their life was the same in Afghanistan. Two years later Sagar told her husband that she wanted to see her family in Iran. He had no money to send her to Iran and the young girl called her family and begged them to let her come home. “I’ve become tired with my life. My husband is jobless and we don’t have anything to eat. I want to leave him and if you don’t let me, I will kill myself.” Sagar said she loved her husband but, “Love can’t feed me. I need a house and food.”

Sagar tried to kill herself by taking medicine. When she opened her eyes a week later in the hospital, her family saw she was too young for marriage. But her family told her it was not good in Afghan culture for girls to want a divorce. Afghan men believe that women who get divorced are bad. It is considered a sin and her family told her she should stay with her husband. She threatened again to kill herself, and her family agreed to get her a divorce and paid money to her husband.

She then married a young boy. At first, Sagar and her new husband were very happy and enjoyed their life very much. But after several months, he became addicted to local poppy crystal. Sagar tried very hard to help him get off the poppy, but he could not stop.

Sagar was now pregnant, and in Afghanistan pregnant women can’t get divorced. After the child’s birth, women must give the child to their husbands if they want to divorce. Over the years, Sagar gave birth to three girls. But Sagar’s husband encouraged her to smoke the crystal with him and she also became addicted. Her husband thought if she smoked poppy she would not leave him.

Her husband is now in jail. Sagar is trying to recover from her addiction, but she does not have a job and she lives with her parents again. They are poor and she has three daughters who are beautiful and smart, but hungry. Sagar says she wants to recover from her drug use and she goes to a clinic. She says, “If I do not smoke, I think about my past life and it hurts me a lot.”

“I was beautiful and smart, but child marriage brought me to this point. I could have studied and had a good life, but I am addicted now and everyone laughs at me.”

“There was a day when everyone wanted me to talk with them. I am addicted, I am a victim, and nobody feels what I suffer.”

By Leeda

Photo: Omar Sobhani-Reuters