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Archive for the tag “child brides”

Afghan oppression: Opium drug lords and child ‘brides’

In Afghanistan, girls — as young as 6 — are being “married” to adult men who loaned money to poor farmers to finance crops of opium poppies. When the farmer can’t repay the loan, the drug lord demands a daughter in payment. When the children aren’t taken as wives, they often are trafficked to other countries, where they are used for transporting drugs or put into sex slavery.

A "wedding" couple in Afghanistan: Mohammed, 40, and Ghulam, 11. (CC AP / UNICEF / Stephanie Sinclair NC)

A “wedding” couple in Afghanistan: Mohammed, 40, and Ghulam, 11. (CC AP / UNICEF / Stephanie Sinclair NC)

Samuel Burke reports for CNN:

The mother of a little Afghan girl cannot even turn to face her daughter. She looks down in shame as she explains why she must hand the girl over to drug lords.

The father of the girl has done what many Afghan farmers must do to finance their opium farms: borrow money from drug traffickers. But the Afghan government and international forces’ attempt to halt the opium trade has quashed the father’s poppy business, and with it, his ability to pay back the lenders.

The drug lords have taken him hostage to extract a payment.

“I have to give my daughter to release my husband,” the mother explains with the girl at her side. She looks no older than six.

Ninety percent of the world’s opium – the raw source of heroin – comes from Afghanistan. Growing poppy there has been a lucrative industry.

The Afghan government has been cracking down and destroying illegal crops, leaving many farmers in the same horrifying situation as the family forced to use their own daughter as collateral for the loan.

“They’re way more dangerous and powerful than the Taliban,” one father of two kidnapped children says about the drug lords. He looks at a text messaged picture of his daughter being held in captivity as the captors demand $20,000 from the man over the telephone.

These tragic stories are documented in PBS’ award-winning Frontline film, Opium Brides, which was made by investigative Afghan reporter Najibullah Quraishi and producer Jamie Doran.

Quraishi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that when the families give up their children, they are often taken to other countries, like Pakistan or Iran, where they are used for transporting drugs or put into sex slavery.

Read the full story and watch a related video by clicking here.

Afghan girls forced to marry

CNN Freedom Project reports:

In many cultures around the world, marriages are arranged between the families of the bride and the groom. But in some cases, very young girls are forced into marriage, crossing the line into the more sinister world of human trafficking.

Laws may exist on the books to prevent girls from being child brides, but those laws are often not enforced. Arwa Damon has this story from Afghanistan.

Click here to watch video report

Young girl ‘brides’ abducted as fabled HIV cure

Justine Lang and Robyn Curnow report for CNN:

KwaCele, South Africa (CNN) – The landscape of the rural Eastern Cape in South Africa has a haunting beauty. A myriad of round turquoise huts scatter across the land in a series of endless villages.

Yet these villages are also home to a terrible and devastating traditional practice that destroys children’s lives and tears families apart.

In these villages, girls as young as 12 are kidnapped by older men and forced to ‘marry.’ It is accepted as part of the Xhosa people’s culture. It has continued unabated for decades.

Ukuthwala, which translates as ‘to pick up’ or ‘to take,’ is used to justify the abduction of girls. In many cases the parents have given their consent in exchange for a bride price.

Complicating the matter is a chilling, modern belief, as Nombasa explains: “There is a myth that if you sleep with a young girl who is a virgin and as a man you are HIV positive then HIV can be cured. That is why they are focusing on these young girls.”

Nombasa said many of the male abductors are older men, widowed by HIV. They then look for a younger “virgin bride” and invariably end up infecting them too.

But a concerted campaign to educate these isolated communities of the illegality of under-aged sex and abduction appears to be paying off.

Full article and video here.

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