161 Afghan children betrothed, married or sold because their parents are in debt — UN

With a devastating drought aggravation an already awful humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, parents are increasing compelled to “sell” young daughter into marriage to pay off debt or purchase food, the UN said Tuesday.
In the dry drought-hit Herat and Baghdis areas of Afghanistan, the UN children’s’ agency estimates that at least 161 children between the ages of one month and 16 years were “sold” over only a four-month time frame.
“The situation of children is dire in Afghanistan,” UNICEF representative Alison Parker told journalists in Geneva.
Speaking as an international conference on Afghanistan got in underway in the Swiss city, Parker said the children in July to October survey were “either being betrothed, married or … sold on because their parents are paying off debtors.”
“Prior to the drought, more than 80 percent of families were already in debt,” she stated, including that numerous individuals who had hope to pay their debt when crops came in have been unable do as so.
“Sadly the children are currently becoming the collateral,” she said.
The youngest girls in the survey, some just babies, had been betrothed while girls of 11 and even more younger were married off.
Six of the 161 affected children were young boys, she stated, including that “there is an increase in child forced labour.”
Parker pointed out to that “the practice of children marriage is sort of an ingrained social norm in Afghanistan,” with 35 percent of the population engaging in the practice across the nation over, and as high as 80 percent in some places.
“Unfortunately it is getting worse. Children are paying the price for conflict, children are paying the price for the drought,” she said. Members of Afghan civil society have gathered in Geneva for conference agreed that there a clear increment in girl’s being “sold” into marriage.

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