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.
In Afghanistan, as in many Asian and African cultures, men pay the family of their wives-to-be an agreed sum, sometimes called the bride price, as well as the cost of the wedding which can also run into thousands of dollars - the average in Kabul is 4,000 dollars. This can be an enormous sum in one of the poorest countries in the world where a low-grade civil servant earns about 60 dollars a month.
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.
What a sick and twisted culture: a man wants to eagerly sell his pre-teen sister so that he can purchase a girl who can satisfy his sexual desires.
Link via Dhimmi Watch.