Forced Marriages in Afghanistan
A wedding is one of the happiest moments in a girl’s life, is when families and friends can come together to celebrate and have fun. In Afghanistan it is traditional for the bride to put on a sad face because she is leaving her family; she is not allowed to smile. However, for many brides this is not an act. They really are unhappy at their weddings because they are being forced into a marriage against their will. In Afghanistan, it is customary for parents to decide whom their child should marry. Although the legal age is 16, custom allows younger girls to wed. A lack of security from decades of war, and the risk of kidnapping and rape has also prompted many families to force their young daughters into marriage. Furthermore, the importance of preserving family honor and girls’ virginity is such that parents push their daughters into marriage well before they are ready. Gender inequality for women and girls often occupy a lower status in societies as a result of social and cultural traditions, attitudes, beliefs that deny them their rights and stifle their ability to play an equal role in their homes and communities. Sometimes families are not even aware they are breaking the law.
Hence, her parents’ prosecutions are seldom brought. In rural areas, the parents would often give threats to their daughter; for instance, to beat or disown her, if she refuses to marry. In families on a low income, girls may be viewed as an economic burden. For this reason, some girls are bartered into marriage to repay debt or resolve a dispute. Besides, many parents see their daughters as a potential to earn an income and to avoid the cost of caring for them. Older, wealthier husbands will pay a larger bride-price for a girl. The parents think that they would find a secure future for their lives as they chose to marry their daughter off. In 2012, a 14 year old afghan girl escaped marriage to a man more twice her age. She has been cast out her home, not before being beaten by her family for rebelling against their wishes. “I am educated, that is why I could refuse my parents’ decision. But my sister is only 13 years old, and they will marry her with that old man,” said Freshta. Many factors contribute on forced marriages; nevertheless, it is an act against the girls’ human rights and their happiness.