An elderly Afghan cleric has been arrested after he married a six-year-old girl, officials said Friday,July 30, in the latest case highlighting the scourge of child marriages in the Muslim country.
Mohammad Karim, said to around 60, who was being held in the central province of Ghor province, claimed her parents gave him the girl as a “religious offering”. But officials cited the girl’s family on Fridayas saying that she was abducted from the western province of Herat.
“This girl does not speak, but repeats only one thing: ‘I am afraid of this man’,” said Masoom Anwari, head of the women affairs department in Ghor.
The girl is currently in a woman’s shelter in Ghor and her parents are on their way to the province to collect her, the local governor’s office said.
“Karim has been jailed and our investigation is ongoing,” said Abdul Hai Khatibi, the governor’s spokesman. The incidents highlight rising cases of child marriages in Afghanistan.
“In some regions because of insecurity and poverty the families marry off their daughters at a very early age to get rid of them,” said Sima Samar, head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.
Afghan civil law sets the legal age of marriage at 16 for girls, yet 15 per cent of Afghan women under 50 were married before their 15th birthday and almost half were married before the age of 18.
“So many children who are married off at a young age are deprived of their right to education, safety and the ability to make choices about their future,” the charity said.
“This is such a fundamental breach of a child’s basic right.” Samar added.
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