Child marriages on the rise amid restrictions on females

KABUL (SW) – Reports suggest child marriages are on the rise amid mounting restrictions on females in Afghanistan.

A number of underage girls who have been forced to marry in the last two years say that they were forced to marry after the political changes in the country and the restrictions on the girls. One of these girls, who did not want to be named in the report, said that she was 17 years old at the time of the recent developments and was forced to get married in the second week of the fall of the republic.

She said that before her marriage, she participated in the university entrance exam and got 312 marks and was successful in her field of choice, but she skipped her education due to marriage.

This young woman, who is now 19 years old and is the mother of a six-month-old child, said that she stayed up late at night, studied, and was the topper in her class until the twelfth grade. But with recent political developments, her efforts have been wasted and she has failed to achieve her dream.

Maryam, another teenager who became a victim of forced marriage six months ago when she was 16 years old, said that she wished to study and become a doctor in the future, but the chaotic situation of the country forced her to marry.

Shahla, another victim of forced marriage, said that she was forced to marry when she was only 16 years old due to the prevailing traditions of the society. With tears in her eyes, she said that she wished to study and decide her own destiny, but with the change of the system, her family forced her to marry. According to Shahla, she had no intention of getting married and her efforts to satisfy her family members have also been fruitless.

Paizi, another woman whose life, like her name, has taken on an autumn color, considers the reason for her marriage to be the patriarchy and traditions ruling the society. She said that forced marriage has made her life bitter. She added that she got engaged at the age of 15 and got married a year later. According to Paiz, the men in the family made decisions about her life and future without consulting her.

Women’s rights activists believe that the main reason for the increase in forced marriages and child marriage is the ban on work and education of women and girls and the dissolution of women’s support institutions in the country.

Zarqa Yeftali, a women’s rights activist and the head of the research center for women and children in the previous regime, said that she receives reports from different regions of the country that show that with the closure of universities and schools for female students above the sixth grade, underage and forced marriages have increased. She said that there are no institutions in Afghanistan to follow up on these cases, and there are no accurate statistics on the number of such marriages.

Meanwhile, Zakia Rezaei, the former head of women’s affairs department in Bamyan and Daikundi, in an interview with Salam Watandar, said that one of the other factors that increase the rate of forced marriages and child marriages of girls is economic. According to her, some families are forced to sell their underage girls for 10,000 to 20,000 afghanis due to poverty.

Nazia Faizi, the head of the support centers at the defunct Ministry of Women’s Affairs of the previous government, confirmed the increase in forced marriages and child marriage and said that after the change of the system, some families forced their underage girls to marry because of the fear of the situation getting worse in the country. .

However, the spokespersons of the Ministries of Justice and Public Affairs of the Islamic Emirate do not specify the minimum age for girls to marry and said that girls can get married when they show signs of puberty.

Abdul Hamid Wayand, the spokesman of the Ministry of Justice of the Islamic Emirate, told Salam Watandar that the principles of marriage for women are determined based on the rules of Islam. According to him, the leader of the Islamic Emirate has ordered that women’s rights be respected within the framework of Islam.

Akif Mohajer, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Public Affairs, did not comment on the increase or decrease of underage marriages, but said that these issues are investigated based on the order of Hebatullah Akhundzada, the leader of the Islamic Emirate. He said that according to the decree of the leader of the Islamic Emirate, no one has the right to force a girl to marry. According to Mohajer, the age of puberty for girls is different and some girls even get mature at the age of nine.