Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Children Become Brides in Afghanistan

In an article written by Barry Bearak for the New York Times, Bearak describes a tradition in Afghanistan that uses the term ‘child bride’ in the most literal sense. He reports that “a child bride is very often just that: a child, even a preteen, her innocence betrothed to someone older, even much, much older.”

Bearak describes the marriage as a “transaction between families rather than a willing union between a man and a woman.” A girl is very valuable in the Afghan society. “In her parents’ home, a girl can till fields, tend livestock and cook meals,” Bearak reports. However, “she is more useful in her husband’s home because she can bear children.”

“The practice of early marriage stems as much from entrenched culture as from financial need,” Bearak reports. “Bridal virginity is a matter of honor. Afghan men want to marry virgins, and their parents prefer to yield their daughters before misbehavior or abduction has brought the family shame and made any wedding impossible.”

Bearak reports that “husbands are not ordinarily old enough to be their wives’ fathers or grandfathers, but such couples are hardly rare.” He says that “in such marriages, the man is likely to view the age difference as a fair bargain, his years of experience in exchange for her years of fecundity.” For these young brides, “marriage will end her opportunities for schooling and independent work.”

To read this article and see pictures of child brides click here.


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