Child Bride

wedding day in herat

Afsana, a beautiful child in the Ingil District of Herat Province, wanted to go outside and play with her friends, but instead she found herself in a wedding dress, preparing to marry. “I was only twelve years old,” she told me.

“It was really hard for me to become a good housewife. I didn’t know how to make a good tea for the guests,” says the young Afsana as we sit together in a medical clinic in the conservative province. “At first when I cooked for my husband and his family, I burned my fingers because I didn’t know how to work with gas heat.” At her young age, she had no experience washing and ironing. She ruined her husband’s nice shirt trying to iron it for him. “It was not so easy,” she says.

Afsana is only one of many girls in Herat who have had to face forced and underage marriage. There are lots of these young girls who just have to be alive and suffer.

Afsana was forced to move into the house of her husband’s family—a strange home where she had to cook, wash, birth, and begin raising children. With two babies—one two years old and another just four months, she feels like her two year old is more like a young brother, not her son. But he is her son, already only the first of two children.

It was hard for her, she tells me. She felt useless to her husband’s family. Even though she was trying, they started to change their behavior toward her—their calling changed to shouting, and little by little their actions became more and more abusive.

Her health suffered, and she felt sad and alone. She didn’t even know what to do to care for herself during pregnancy. Her problems doubled, and no one could help her.

In calls home to her parents, Afsana lied. She didn’t want her parents to worry and told them things were fine in her husband’s home.

Now after bringing two babies into the world, Afsana worries. She says she doesn’t know how to be a good mother for her children nor a good wife for her husband. She asks that families not repeat this mistake made by her own parents. She wants other families to wait and educate their daughters.

Afsana sits with me at the clinic, looks at her baby girl, and promises she will do her best to educate her children and let them decide their lives for themselves.

I wonder if she will have the chance to make this so.

By Massoma

Photo: Picture-Alliance/DPA


  1. liz titus says:

    Dear Massoma,
    This is so very sad. I cannot imagine a girl just 12 years old having to go through this. I am glad she has the clinic, and you to talk to.
    Thank you for sharing the harsh reality of one girl’s situation in Herat so the world will know.
    All the best,

  2. Thank you so much for telling Afsana’s story, Massoma! I feel that I have read about child brides and the cruelty of their circumstances, but this is the first time I’ve read the words of a child bride, as told to a writer. Everyone needs to read this. I want Afsana to know that we’re reading, we’re listening, and we’re praying for her and that we wish her good health, loving support, and the possibility for her to take excellent care of her children and her to follow her dreams.

  3. I think she will succeed! She has been so brave for so long. It is a lot of responsability to raise a family even for an adult. I hope her children will always be good to her and value her for all the sacrifices she has made to take care of them, when she needed so much someone to take care of herself. How harsh life can be! There is so much abuse toward young girls and women! They must know that they have power, that they are not a shadow of a man. They have an identity, they worth, no matter how a man humiliates them. They MUST love themselves FIRST! I wish the very best to this so brave girl. I hope one day she can savor happiness. So far, she has not! My prayers go to her. She empowers me as a woman for being so admirable in her struggles. I hope she does not give up, never ever!

  4. Alexandra says:

    Thank-you for this story about Afsana. I hope she can visit with you again at the clinic to learn how to care for herself and her children. She is only a child herself! She needs to love herself and love her children. She needs to know that others care for her. I care. I read this story and I am immensely moved by it. She must have faith in her ability to love herself and her children. Maybe she can find a way to earn money so that she can get out of the power of her husband’s family.

  5. Meg Hawkins says:

    Dear Massoma,
    Thank you for sharing this Asfana’s story. Her story is outstanding. It’s hard to imagine being married at 12. I am 17 now and cannot imagine being married with 2 children by this age. Im glad Asfana has made a plan to educate her children and create a bright future for them. I know Asfana will succeed in creating a beautiful future for her children. She is so brave and seems like a remarkable young woman. I hope Asfana finds a way to create a new life and start a new.

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