A 55-year-old man has been arrested after he allegedly wed a girl who was just six years old – in return for a goat.
Seyed Abdolkarim was taken in by officers after police were told he had married the child, named only as Gharibgol, in a religious ceremony.
The child was reportedly sold by her father who was also arrested by police after they claimed he exchanged her for the goat, along with rice, tea, sugar, and cooking oil.
He said he had been struggling to look after the family, and that exchanging his daughter meant he gained food and lost a mouth to feed.
The footage shows the arrest of Gharibgol’s father in his village as local women attacked him and beat him up.
He said that Abdolkarim had promised he wouldn’t sleep with Gharibgol until she was 18.
Following the marriage, the respected imam Abdolkarim was said to have taken his new wife to a relative’s house in Firozkoh, in Ghor province, as his daughter.
But they became concerned when they realised “he was undressing her at night” according to the report.
Mr Ahmady writes: “So he asked the mullah, ‘she’s not your daughter?’
“The mullah replied, ‘no, she’s my wife; her father gave her to me’. The host told a friend, who called the local women rights bureau for Ghor province.”
Tests carried out by the hospital in Ghor show that “there was no sexual intercourse”.
The child is currently being housed in a safe location with her mother.
The province’s women’s rights bureau intends to ensure a divorce and the removal of the father’s parental rights, but it will be a complex process as another imam must carry out the divorce – which is frowned upon in the culture.
The arrangement has gone viral in Afghanistan where the law states that women are permitted to wed from 16 and men from 18 – but influential imams can escape punishment, according to Mr Ahmady.
About 40 days ago Gharibgol was forced to marry the mullah of Obeh, the village where she lives with her family. She was sold to him by her father in exchange for a goat, a bag of rice, tea, sugar, and a few litres of cooking oil.
After their marriage, her husband took her to Firozkoh, in Ghor province, to stay at a distant relative’s house. This host first thought that Gharibgol was the mullah’s daughter. But then the host realized that he was undressing her at night. [Editor’s Note: According to tests later carried out by Ghor hospital, there was no sexual intercourse.] So he asked the mullah: she’s not your daughter? The mullah replied: no, she’s my wife; her father gave her to me. The host told a friend, who called the local women rights bureau for Ghor province. The bureau called the police, and called me, as well.
The next day, on July 31, police arrested the mullah, and then went to arrest Gharibgol’s father in his village. But before they took him away, local women attacked him and beat him up – I filmed the scene.
“This is just one of so many acts of violence against girls in Afghanistan”
Under the law, nobody is allowed to marry underage children. But imams like this mullah are quite respected, and don’t always face consequences. Moreover, there’s the problem of poverty – the girl’s father said that he was having trouble making ends meet and that selling her not only meant gaining a goat and two months’ worth of food, it meant one less mouth to feed. He tried to defend himself by saying that the mullah had promised he wouldn’t sleep with his daughter until she was 18. I really hope that both men will serve time in jail.
This is just one of so many acts of violence against girls in Afghanistan. Most don’t make the news. But there have been a few cases that shocked the nation lately: one was the case of Zahra, a girl who was forced to marry at the age of eight. At age 18, last month, she was burned to death after by her husband’s family after a dispute with her parents. Then there was Rokhshana, 19, who was stoned to death last year. She had been married when she was underage and was accused of having sexual relationship with a boy of her own age. A video of her stoning drew shock from around the world.