What's worse is that the money he got from selling his daughter will only help them get by for a couple of months.
Trigger Warning: This story discusses child trafficking which may be disturbing to readers.
A 9-year-old Afghan girl named Parwana Malik, with dark eyes and rosy cheeks, spent her time playing with her friends, despite having a rather difficult life. According to CNN, Parwana and her family have lived in an Afghan displacement camp in northwestern Badghis province for the past four years. They barely made ends meet, with the help of humanitarian aid, They also did menial work to earn a few dollars a day.
But, ever since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, life as they knew it changed, and little Parwana had no idea what was in store for her. The family was no longer able to afford even their basic necessities, and the father, Abdul Malik, was left with no choice but to sell his precious daughter for money, so the rest of them could survive.
Parwana was eventually sold to a 55-year-old man, but for the child, he's "an old man" with white eyebrows and a thick white beard. She's now worried he'll abuse her and force her to work in his home. Before Parwana was sold for money, the father sold his 12-year-old daughter, too.
In Afghanistan teenage girls are currently being sold for 1000 - 3000 by their parent to men & forced to illegal marriage— OneHunnidt (@HunnidtWaze) August 20, 2010
On October 24, 2021, Qorban, the buyer, who only has one name, arrived at her home and handed 200,000 Afghanis (about $2,200) in the form of sheep, land, and cash to Parwana's father.
However, Qorban—who reportedly already has a wife— assured Malik he'd take care of her as one of their own children. "(Parwana) was cheap, and her father was very poor and he needs money," Qorban said. "She will be working in my home. I won't beat her. I will treat her like a family member. I will be kind."
But Malik knows that he has no control over how Qorban treats his daughter, now that she's been sold to him. "The old man told me, 'I'm paying for the girl. It's none of your business what I'm doing with her ... that's my business,'" Malik said.
I’ve read two horrific stories today about little girls being sold in Afghanistan in order for families to buy food. Not sons just the daughters. Where are all the celebrities preaching about female equality and parity? Haven’t heard a whisper— Martin Davison (@bradfordcowboy) November 2, 2021
"Parwana is one of many young Afghan girls sold into marriage as the country's humanitarian crisis deepens. Hunger has pushed some families to make heartbreaking decisions, especially as the brutal winter approaches," states the shocking report.
"Day by day, the numbers are increasing of families selling their children," said Mohammad Naiem Nazem, a human rights activist in Badghis. "Lack of food, lack of work, the families feel they have to do this."
Parwana's case is not unique to Afghanistan. "The uncertainty combined with rising poverty has pushed many girls into the marriage market," the report states. "It's absolutely cataclysmic," said Heather Barr, associate director of the women's rights division at Human Rights Watch. "We don't have months or weeks to stem this emergency ... we are in the emergency already."
I cannot believe 9 and 10 year-old girls are being SOLD in Afghanistan to old men for bread! Good God! Sell them to adoptive parents in other countries,at least!!— DL Jones🏡🏕🫂 (@DLbluiyes) November 2, 2021
"As long as a girl is in school, her family is invested in her future," added Barr. "As soon as a girl falls out of education, then suddenly it becomes much more likely that she's going to be married off."
Malik says he's not able to sleep at night now because he's so consumed by guilt over what he's done, even though he did it since he had no other choice. In fact, he had tried to avoid selling her. "He traveled to the provincial capital city Qala-e-Naw to search unsuccessfully for work, even borrowing "lots of money" from relatives, and his wife resorted to begging other camp residents for food."
But to survive, he knew he had only this option, even though it was the last thing he wanted to do. "We are eight family members," he said. "I have to sell to keep other family members alive."
Girls as young as 4 are being sold into marriage in #Afghanistan. Zaiton, whose father is seeking about $1,100 for her, knows why: "Because we are a poor family and we don't have enough to eat."— RAGreeneCNN (@RAGreeneCNN) November 2, 2021
What's worse is that the money he got from selling Parwana will only help them get by for a couple of months. He will soon have to come up with another solution to pay for their needs. Parwana said she hoped to change her parents' minds but in vain. She didn't want to give up her education, because she wanted to become a teacher. "But her pleas were futile."
When the money from Parwana's sale runs out, he will have to make difficult choices once again, as he has three daughters and a son still at home to support. "As I can see, we don't have a future, our future is destroyed," he said. "I will have to sell another daughter if my financial situation doesn't improve, probably the 2-year-old."
Cover Image Source (Representative): Getty Images | Photo by saiyood