by Andrew G. Bostom
Reported by the London Evening Standard, to its own self-described “shock,” a decade after British troops entered this chronically war-torn Muslim backwater, the publication:
…has uncovered shocking evidence of an eight-year-old girl who was married off to a policeman for cash. She was sold to the officer, in his twenties, in clear breach of laws introduced two years ago to protect women. She was then the subject of a remarkable battle that symbolises the plight of girls in Afghanistan. Her story vividly highlights the failure to bring about social reforms in the stricken nation, despite the long presence of British forces. It is revealed ahead of tomorrow’s 10th anniversary of the first air strikes on Afghanistan and is a grim reminder of how once-high hopes for democracy, modern justice and social progress there have been dashed.
The child was sold to a member of the Afghan border police, a state employee, within the past year by her father in the southern Helmand district of Garmsir. A price was agreed with the father and the marriage was duly solemnized in a ceremony with a mullah. This was against Afghan state law on marriage but the ceremony gave legitimacy and status in the eyes of the communities and the families. (Religion of Peace)
The awful plight of this eight-year-old Afghan child was then compounded by an almost fittingly tragic and bizarre (to Westerners, or anyone of modern sensibilities) “custody battle,” resolved, of course, with the appropriate Islamic remedy, imposed by Muslim arbiters. Robert Fox, Defense Correspondent for the London Evening Standard provides these further unsettling details:
It was agreed in the deal that the groom would not have sex with the bride until she had passed puberty. Under current law, the legal lower age for marriage is 16. After a few months, the father returned to the bridegroom’s family to complain. In breach of the contract, the husband had attempted sex with the child bride. This was referred, with the help of international advisers and counselors, to the legal authorities. The public prosecutor and the Haquq, the local arbitrator and a key figure in community justice in Afghanistan, were requested to consider a prosecution against the abusive husband.
“The child was taken into custody,” said my source, a governance adviser from the international community. “She was examined by a US Marine doctor and was found to have been interfered with (a rather transparent euphemism for sexual abuse).” At this point, the authorities decided this was a matter not for the law of Afghanistan but community and tribal custom…
…The fate of the above mentioned eight year old is, unsurprisingly, tragic. The village elders decided that the husband had breached the agreement and so should pay the bigger bride price demanded by the father. They also ruled the child should return to her husband, whatever the risk to her health, happiness and even life.