While international humanitarian help has been suspended since the Taliban’s takeover of the country in August, families cannot fulfill their basic needs and live in despair.
The Daily Mail witnessed when Parwana Malik, a nine-year-old girl, is being sold by her parents to a stranger with a white beard and eyebrows, she describes him as an “old guy.”
Her father was forced to sell his daughter to a 55-year-old man to purchase food. The family of Parwana’s stated they had no option but to sell their daughter into marriage as Afghanistan’s heading into a humanitarian disaster.
Abdul Malik, Parwana’s distraught father, begged Qorban, her 55-year-old buyer, not to harm his daughter when he took her away. A shattered Abdul wept openly when he informed Qorban: “This is your bride, please take care of her. You are responsible now; please don’t beat her.”
Four years ago, the family had relocated to a displacement camp in the Badghis area of northwestern Afghanistan. Humanitarian aid and jobs that pay around $3 a day have kept them going.
Abdul had previously sold his 12-year-old daughter to keep his family fed and clothed, to eat.
“My father has sold me because we don’t have bread, rice or flour,” said Parwana, who was wearing a pastel pink headscarf.
Abdul claims he cannot sleep at night for the shame he feels in selling his daughter. With little luck finding a job or borrowing money from the family, his wife had even begged other camp inhabitants for food.
Abdul explained: “We are eight family members. I have to sell to keep other family members alive.”
Although Parwana is being sold for 200,000 Afghanis (about $2,150), that will only last for a few months until his family has to find another source of income.
For as long as she could remember, Parwana dreamed of being a teacher. She hoped to change her parents’ mind so she wouldn’t have to leave her home or quit school.
When the buyer came to the family’s house last week, he just had one name: Qorban.
With her face hidden by a black headdress and flower garland, Parwana feared her family and new husband would abuse her and compel her to work, so she covered her face. Abdul wept as he informed Qorban, “This is your bride. She needs your help. Please don’t hit her now that you’re in charge of her.”
While Parwana’s father looked on, Qorban grabbed his daughter’s arm and escorted her to the door. Qorban asserted that he would raise Parwana as his own and claimed to have a wife already.
Parwana struggled and dug her feet into the ground, but her efforts were in vain as she was taken away into a car and they sped off the place.
The buyer, Qorban said to the Daily Mail: “[the girl] was cheap, and her father was very poor and he needs money, she will be working in my home. I won’t beat her. I will treat her like a family member. I will be kind.”
Having lost all control over his daughter’s future, Abdul’s father was in tears; whether he likes it or not, the man decides what to do with her.
Abdul went on to say, “As I can see, we don’t have a future—our future is destroyed. I will have to sell another daughter if my financial situation doesn’t improve—probably the two-year-old.”
Afghanistan’s economy has been on the verge of collapse since the Taliban gained control of the nation in August. As a result, the value of its currency has plummeted even though hard cash is in limited supply, and the UN has warned that food supplies might run dangerously low within the next few months.
Afghanistan is at a “break” point, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said this week, pleading for countries to return assistance money that accounted for 75 percent of state spending before the Taliban’s takeover in August.
A cash crisis has struck Afghanistan as assets in the United States, other nations, and international organizations have been blocked and disbursements placed on hold. For a country where a third of the population lives on less than $2 a day, the economic collapse might be fatal.
Illegally selling children under 15 has become increasingly common as a result. Families are selling their children “day by day,” says a human rights activist in Badghis, Mohammad Naiem Nazem. “Lack of food, lack of work, the families feel they have to do this.”
Human Rights Watch’s assistant director for women’s rights, Heather Barr, called it “It’s absolutely cataclysmic, we don’t have months or weeks to stem this emergency. We are in the emergency already.”
One of the most severe child consequences of bride trafficking is many young women are coerced into sex without their knowledge or consent.
There at least 18 million people in Afghanistan are affected by the humanitarian catastrophe. To eat, many people are increasingly collecting plastic bottles for recycling or resale. Following the end of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, has called on nations to re-enter the country’s economy.
A growing number of analysts believe that withholding foreign help from the Taliban will directly impact their administration. The Taliban new government is fragile and poor, and these young girls are suffering the most, as UNOCHA chief of office Isabelle Moussard Carlsen said.