Asia&Pacific

Desperate Afghan relatives sell their female children for food

16:29, 03 November 2021
Desperate Afghan relatives sell their female children for food Photo: pixabay

Afghanistan faces a huge humanitarian crisis while most parts of the Afghan people are struggling to feed themselves. The American media reported heartbreaking stories where the poor relatives were forced to sell even their small children to get some food.


The residents of Afghanistan will highly likely face a huge hunger unless urgent measures are taken, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said.

At least 22,8 million people including 3,2 million children could suffer scarcity of food this December.

Sheep for the daughter

A 9-year-old girl Parwana Malik was sold into marriage for 200,000 Afghanis (about $2,200) in the form of sheep, land, and cash to Parwana's father Abdul Malik. Malik’s family lives in the displacement camp in the northwestern Badghis province where Parwans’s father worked for $1 per day.

The parents told CNN journalists that they didn’t have another way out to feed the family.

"We are eight family members. I have to sell to keep other family members alive," Abdul said. 

He added that he couldn’t sleep at night and he felt guilty and ashamed for what he had done.

The buyer of Parwana, Qorban, said that he already has a wife and he needs Parwana as a housekeeper. 

"Parwana was cheap, and her father was very poor and he needed money," Qorban told the reporters. "She will be working in my home. I won't beat her. I will treat her like a family member. I will be kind."

Despite marrying children under 15 and selling them for marriage are being forbidden in Afghanistan, it has been a common tradition for years, especially in more rural parts of the country. The dreadful tradition has been triggered since August, driven by widespread hunger and desperation.

Paying the debt

In Qala-i-Naw, the capital of Badghis province the AFP journalists intertwined the Afghan woman Fahima who was also forced to sell two of their daughters to survive after the drought.

Six-year-old Faristeh was paid $3,350 and 18-month-old Shokriya $2,800. The buyer family will be paid in installments over several years until the time comes to join their new families, their future husbands still underage themselves.

A Fahima neighbor, Sabehreh, told her tragic story. A woman sold her three-year-old daughter Zekereh to repay the debts to the owner of the grocer’s shop. Zekereh will be betrothed to the four-year-old owner’s son.

“I’m not happy to have done that, but we had nothing to eat or drink,” Sabehreh told AFP. “If this continues, we’ll have to give up our three-month-old.” 

Another woman Gul Bibi confirmed that many families were forced to agree with child marriage.

Her daughter Asho, 9, was betrothed to a 23-year-old man whose family mother was indebted. The young man is currently away in Iran, and she terrifies the day of his return.

There are plenty of those stories and given the current situation in Afghanistan, child trafficking will be kept happening. 

"Day by day, the numbers are increasing of families selling their children, lack of food, lack of work, the families feel they have to do this," said Mohammad Naiem Nazem, a human rights activist in Badghis.

In September, the UN reported that just five percent of families in Afghanistan had sufficient food to eat every day. At the beginning of October, the United Nations warned that at least one million children can be at high risk of dying from malnutrition without immediate medical treatment. 

On Tuesday the Taliban* announced that all foreign currency operations in Afghanistan will be banned.

*Taliban is a terror organization banned in the US, Russia, and many other countries.