naghma mohammed

There is always news about Afghanistan on the Yahoo site and recently when I checked the site, a light blue title caught my attention.

The news was about a six-year-old Afghan girl who was going to have to marry a seventeen-year-old teenage boy because her father didn’t have money for his wife’s medical treatment. He had to borrow some money to pay to the hospital, and his girl would have to pay the cost and fix the problem by marrying.

Fortunately, intervention by the United Nations saved this girl. I personally appreciate that.

If the United Nations had not paid the girl’s father’s debt, once again a girl would have been sacrificed in order to save her family.

Why are girls always the victims of their families’ problems? Why aren’t the boys equal victims? 

When a girl is born, no one is happy—neither the father, nor the grandparents, nor any of her relatives.

Everyone feels sorry for her family because they think that another girl will diminish their prosperity and lives. They believe they can only depend on a son; only a son can meet the challenges that lie ahead.

They view their girls not as their own children, but more like strangers and pieces of property who will get married and go live in another household. 

Therefore, they take advantage of their girls. But they see their sons as the ones who will take care of them until the end of their lives.

These families believe their entire lives and merit depend on sons. For the girls, it is the opposite. It is their girls who always have to pay the price whenever the family encounters a problem. It is never the sons.

As soon as their girls grow up, their grandfathers, fathers, brothers, or uncles have the right to force them to get married without asking them.

No one even thinks of these girls as humans; they simply are counted as their parents’ bank account and when the parents need money, their girls are there.  

I have heard many stories about women and girls who have been tortured in some way or have killed themselves by lighting themselves on fire. Some have tolerated all the adversity; they view mistreatment as a destiny that no one can change, but God.

They might be right. Because since they were born without hope, without the right to dream or have desires, they only see a very dark future for themselves. These dark days only come to an end at death.

By Sitara 

AWWP’s writing on child marriage is being shared with Breakthrough’s campaign, “Nation Against Early Marriage.” Photo: Naghma Mohammad, right, who is 6 years old, was promised as payment for her family’s debt. Bryan Denton/The New York Times