Monday, December 12, 2016

AFGHANISTAN - The "bacha posh": little girls dressed as boys to avoid early marriages with adults

Afghan families who want to protect their underage girls from early marriages are having to decide whether to hide their sex to avoid grown men to marry them. 

Parents who choose not to be groped by the financial offers and material goods that adults between 40 and 70 of years offer, are forced to turn them into "bacha posh" which in Dari, the main language of the Country, means "dressed up like a boy". 

Their hair is cut short like boys, they wear boys clothes and change their name so that, especially in rural areas, they go unnoticed in a society that considers them little more than tangible property. 

However, many parents, led by local religious leaders and by the tribal traditions, in the end decide to sell them for large sums of money.

Recently, the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) carried out a study among parents and elders of tribal councils in the provinces of Balkh, Faryab and Jawzan which showed that in their communities most girls between 9 and 14 years of age are married, although the minimum age for women to get married in Afghanistan is 16. 

The director of women's affairs department in Balkh, said that "every day there is a new case of forced child marriage". 

In addition, the representative of the Independent Commission for Human Rights in Afghanistan, said that "the cases of child marriage in the north of the Country are on the rise".

On the other hand, the IWPR denounced the fact that "local authorities admit to not being able to prevent the phenomenon", and denounce this endemic scourge that not only violates the rights of children, but opens the way towards gender violence. 

According to a report by Human Rights Watch, pregnancy among minors also involves serious risks and danger of death during childbirth complications. 

The World Health Organization reports that 460 women out of 100,000 die each year in Afghanistan due to complications during childbirth, many are minors.

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