I’ve written often on the treatment that young girls in Afghanistan receive when trying to get an education. But an even greater problem in the region is the girls who aren’t getting an education not because they have been frightened away from school, or that their schools have been shut down, but because their families have either given them away or sold them into marriages when they are still in their young teens.
Last week, the New York Times reported on two young Afghan girls, aged 13 and fourteen, who ran away from abusive marriages with much older men. When discovered by police, they were returned to their original province, where the leader of the town had them flogged. Only then were they granted divorces from their husbands.
After a kangaroo trial by Mr. Khan and local religious leaders, according to the commission’s report on the episode, the girls were sentenced to 40 lashes each and flogged on Jan. 12.
In the video, the mullah, under Mr. Khan’s approving eye, administers the punishment with a leather strap, which he appears to wield with as much force as possible, striking each girl in turn on her legs and buttocks with a loud crack each time. Their heavy red winter chadors are pulled over their heads so only their skirts protect them from the blows.
The spectators are mostly armed men wearing camouflage uniforms, and at least three of them openly videotape the floggings. No women are present.
The mullah, whose name is not known, strikes the girls so hard that at one point he appears to have hurt his wrist and hands the strap to another man.
“Hold still,” the mullah admonishes the victims, who stand straight throughout. One of them can be seen in tears when her face is briefly exposed to view, but they remain silent.
When the second girl is flogged, an elderly man fills in for the mullah, but his blows appear less forceful and the mullah soon takes the strap back.
The spectators count the lashes out loud but several times seem to lose count and have to start over, or possibly they cannot count very high.
“Good job, mullah sir,” one of the men says as Mr. Khan leads them in prayer afterward.
Despite the humiliation, and despite the pain, the two girls were actually quite lucky in their punishment, since it eventually allowed them to be released from their marriages. Apparently, that is not often the case.
On Saturday, at the Women for Afghan Women shelter, at a secret location in Kabul, there were four fugitive child brides. All had been beaten, and most wept as they recounted their experiences.
Sakhina, a 15-year-old Hazara girl from Bamian, was sold into marriage to pay off her father’s debts when she was 12 or 13.
Her husband’s family used her as a domestic servant. “Every time they could, they found an excuse to beat me,” she said. “My brother-in-law, my sister-in-law, my husband, all of them beat me.”
Sumbol, 17, a Pashtun girl, said she was kidnapped and taken to Jalalabad, then given a choice: marry her tormentor, or become a suicide bomber. “He said, ‘If you don’t marry me I will put a bomb on your body and send you to the police station,’ ” Sumbol said.
Roshana, a Tajik who is now 18, does not even know why her family gave her in marriage to an older man in Parwan when she was 14. The beatings were bad enough, but finally, she said, her husband tried to feed her rat poison.
In some ways, the two girls from Ghor were among the luckier child brides. After the floggings, the mullah declared them divorced and returned them to their own families.
Two years earlier, in nearby Murhab district, two girls who had been sold into marriage to the same family fled after being abused, according to a report by the Human Rights Commission. But they lost their way, were captured and forcibly returned. Their fathers — one the village mullah — took them up the mountain and killed them.
How big is the problem in Afghanistan? According to one source:
Child marriages in Afghanistan has made it a hub for pedophiles who force girls to marry at low ages in the name of religion. For a lawless Taliban infested country like Afghanistan any women empowerment is a far fetched thought.
A UNICEF study between the years 2000 and 2008 revealed that more than 43% of women in Afghanistan were married underage and some of them even before reaching puberty. Flogging which is also illegal in Afghanistan is a common practice by the self-appointed moral police in the form of kangaroo courts.
A video of the flogging, which I have chosen not to show here, can been seen at the above link.
Read more: womens rights
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may
not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.