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.
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.