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Naghama Appeal
£140 raised
8% of £1.8k goal
5 contributors
0 days left
Ended Jun 6, 2013
On behalf of ASCHIANA Organisation we are appealing for funding to save a 7 year old girl from a life of early marriage to an 18 year old married man Khan Mohammad.
Forced marriage is a cultural practice in Afghanistan. Marriages are used to settle ...
On behalf of ASCHIANA Organisation we are appealing for funding to save a 7 year old girl from a life of early marriage to an 18 year old married man Khan Mohammad.
Forced marriage is a cultural practice in Afghanistan. Marriages are used to settle debts or to strengthen family status through social alliances. Poor families consider a daughter as an economic burden who must be married quickly to reduce the financial strain. With the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan many parents aim to marry their daughters at young ages to secure their futures.
Naghama is a little girl who lives with her parents in Charahi Qambar camp in Kabul, an informal settlement where the Internally Displaced People (IDP) live. These people have moved from various parts of Afghanistan to live in Kabul, fleeing the internal fighting which is ongoing. This little girl is to be married off to an 18 year old man in order to repay the debt owed by her father, whose name is Kahan. The story is that Naghama will be married off to pay back a debt that her family has incurred due to the mother's need of medical treatment, which has cost the family AFN 125,000 (equivalent to US$ 2,500).
Taj Mohammad is unemployed and was not in a position to pay for his wife's medical treatment, and therefore borrowed the money from a man called Dost Mohammad, who was able to lend him the money. Dost Mohammad has now asked for his money to be paid back, and Naghama's father is not able to repay the loan but instead offered his daughter to marry Dost son whose name is Khan in order to repay the loan, and Khan has agreed to the receive the repayment of his money in the form of marrying Naghama.
Taj (Naghama's father) has written a letter and appealed to Dost to be given time to raise the money to repay him, and in case he succeeds, he asks to keep his daughter with him until she reaches the age of 15, when she can be taken as his wife. If Taj is not able to raise the money within the time period agreed which is 3 months then Khan could come and collect his daughter, and take her to be his wife. Khan is 18 years old and is already married.
In Afghanistan, custom and tradition are far more influential in determining the fate of marriages than the actual laws in the society. Even thoughthe girl is very much under-age, and in many people's opinion (Westerners and some Afghans at least) this marriage is not appropriate at all, as they both relate to totally different generations and the consequences of such marriages are often very negative, the traditional context for the marriage is more significant and most Afghans will just accept it.
Girls are given in marriage in exchange, called badal, and this is one of the reasons for child marriage. It is clearly forbidden in Islam for a marriage to be based on an exchange: 'in concluding marriage a woman will not be exchanged for another woman and similar dowry will be required for each of these women'. Parents frequently exchange their daughters for marriage, these exchanges frequently occur during the daughter's childhood. Parents commit two types of violation of their child's rights, they violate their child's right to marry or not to marry as well as their right to dignity. There is also wedding expense called Toyana the reason for early childhood marriage is that parents received the Toyana. There are different reasons for an exorbitant Toyana. The most important reason is the parents' poverty, which induces them to seek support in cash as an exchange for their daughters.
Some other types of traditional marriages are explained below, followed by some background information on the (lack of ) rights of the child in Afghanistan.

Exchange marriages (girl against girl): This is when a girl is being exchanged with another because there is something "wrong" with the first one (eg she cannot conceive). This happens regardless of the wishes and interests and thus there is no respect for the human dignity of both girls and their marriages. In such cases very often the misfortune of one couple affects the life of the other. This happens even though such exchange is totally forbidden in Islam.
Bad or honour marriages: this is the worst type of marriage. It happens in order to resolve a conflict between two enemies or families who have a dispute. In other words, a girl that may be five years old has to pay the price for the crimes committed by her brother/father/uncle.
Child engagements/marriages and engagement while the child is not even born: this custom binds the two persons without their will and without even knowing each other from childhood. Due to the customary beliefs they cannot separate or refuse in order to respect their families. And in case a girl refuses such marriage, it is again very hard for the girl to marry again.
Exchange of girls for debt repayment is a commitment from one party to pay in cash or in kind to the party from whom s/he has borrowed the amount in cash or in kind. The indebted person is not able to pay the outstanding amount on conditions that take into account his or her economic capability. Therefore parents are made to marry their daughters to pay their outstanding debts. This illustrates the weakness of the dominant social system and the government's inability to implement the rule of law and to bring social welfare.
Forced and early marriages entrap girls and deprive them of their basic rights. In forced marriages, one of the partners is not willing to participate and varying degrees of coercion are involved. In arranged marriages, the families play a leading role, but the individuals getting married can supposedly choose whether to marry or not. In many cases, the border between forced and arranged marriage is imperceptible.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women both condemn the deprival of girls’ rights implicit in forced and early marriage. Afghanistan has signed these documents, and the Afghan Constitution states: "Any kind of discrimination and privilege among citizens of Afghanistan is forbidden. Citizens of Afghanistan, men and women, have equal rights and responsibilities in front of the law."
Children, particularly girls, are also regularly forced into marriage at an early age. According to Afghan law, the legal age of marriage for boys is 18 while it is 16 for girls. These legal provisions rarely reflect current practice in rural communities where the vast majority of girls are married when they are younger than 16 years old and without their consent, often for economic reasons or conflict resolution (“blood money”). Save the Children estimated that 48 percent of marriages involve boys and girls under the age of 18. Even though civil law prohibits forced and child marriage, there are no known cases of parents being prosecuted for child marriage to date, according to Afghanistan Independence Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).
The biggest hurdles in preventing girl child marriage remain cultural practices and traditional attitudes of the people. These cannot be changed by any single agency and there is need for a collective, unified voice to be raised against the issue by every sector of the society.
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