Oh they don’t mind, they’re used to it

Young people are so spoiled these days. They just want to fritter away all their time in school when they could be sold into slavery I mean ‘marriage’ to pay off their fathers’ gambling debts. Why, when I was growing up, four year old girls were sold so their fathers could buy an ice cream cone, and they were thankful for the opportunity. Kids are so selfish now.

Shabana, a pretty Afghan teenager with a modern haircut, was 12 years old when she was forced to marry a man 38 years her senior to settle her father’s 600-dollar gambling debt. Two years later, she is unhappy and angry. She doesn’t like her husband, 52-year-old farmer Mohammad Asef. “He is wild – he destroyed my hopes,” she said in their humble mudbrick home in the northern province of Balkh, speaking out only when Asef went into another room to take a call. She doesn’t get on with her husband’s first wife, who is aged 42 and lives with them. And she is disgusted with her father. “He sold me,” she told AFP.

Hopes? Her hopes? What hopes could she have, the ungrateful little brat? To get an education? To decide for herself whether and when to marry or not, and whom to marry or not? What to do with her life? Pfffff. She’s a girl; girls don’t get to hope things like that.

“When I came back, my father-in-law had gambled away all the harvest,” he said. “He promised me to get my money in one month but he couldn’t find it. I knew he wouldn’t because he is a very poor man. It was about 600 dollars. When he couldn’t find the money, I married his 12-year-old daughter in compensation.”

Well, obviously. Because if a man owes another man a lot of money that he doesn’t have, obviously it’s the nearest twelve-year-old girl who is the compensation. Obviously twelve-year-old girls aren’t people (let alone people with hopes, people who ought to be in school), they’re livestock, with a cash value, to be sold whenever their fathers are a little short of the ready.

Shabana, who likes to wear jeans and read novels and newspapers, was taken out of school. Now she spends most of her time doing chores in the simple house for which Asef cannot yet afford doors. The illegal practise of exchanging girls to settle debts, including those owed to opium farmers, or to settle disputes between clans persists around the country…[M]en hold sway and often break the law with impunity, including by marrying underage girls or using them to settle debts or feuds…Between 60 and 80 per cent of all marriages are believed to be ‘forced’ – a term that covers a range of practises including marrying off girls to repay debts or without their consent, according to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. This is one of the main factors behind girls and women running away from home or committing suicide, including by setting themselves alight by dousing themselves in fuel and igniting it with a match.

I can’t see why. Why would a normal right-thinking young girl not want to leave school in order to move in with a 52-year-old man and his wife to be the man’s sex toy and to spend most of her time doing chores? I can’t see anything unappealing or irksome in such a prospect, can you?

To be able to afford his own wife, Abdul Raheem, also from Balkh province, says he wants to marry off his 12-year-old sister as soon as he can. The family of the woman he has set his heart on wants 6,000 dollars for her. Raheem, who earns 60 dollars a month as a cleaner in a police station in Mazar, has saved 2,000 dollars. “It’s very difficult for me to find 4,000 dollars,” he said. But if he could marry off his sister, “then I can marry my girlfriend,” he told AFP.

Well, whatever works for you, Abdul Raheem. Enjoy your $6000 dollar wife, and give my regards to your sister.

26 Responses to “Oh they don’t mind, they’re used to it”