Asking price: $20,000
Sunday, January 3rd. The start of the New Year finds me reading a heartbreaking, but not uncommon, story of a young Afghan woman who has been put on the auction block for $20,000. Just one of the estimated 80% of Afghan women that are forced into marriages, her story is not uncommon, but her circumstances are unique and worth sharing as a reminder that these woman are worth advocating for.
This girl was lucky to be part of a growing number of Afghan girls that are encouraged by their fathers to get an education. Unique enough when men not only tolerate, but encourage their daughters to become educated. More unique still, when fathers refuse or postpone marriage proposals for their daughters in order for their education to be completed.
In this particular case, the father died and the girl’s care fell to the eldest brothers. They viewed her value as little more than dollar signs and set up her engagement to distant relative for $20,000. This uncle lives in a Taliban-held province that would mean requiring her to wear the burqa, abandon further education, stay in the home, and give up any dreams of a career other than a mother to a large family.
The likely outcome? She’ll be sold as the ‘happy bride’, or she will choose the route of many young girls and take her own life in an effort to excise some control over her own fate and avoid a life condemned. Either way its a tragic ending to a woman who was born with the support of her father to follow her dreams.
As tragic as this story is, it solidifies our efforts with Mountain 2 Mountain to help empower Afghan women and children. To help girls have access to education, and to ensure that the men in their families and communities understand how much more valuable their female counterparts are when educated and employed. Building schools is just one step. Scholarships, community support, vocational training, advocacy, and microfinance are all part of the cycle towards empowerment, opportunity, and equality.
Stories like “I am for Sale” about the young women above and others written by Afghan women telling their stories can be found at The Afghan Women’s Writing Project: http://awwproject.wordpress.com/