More Afghan Families Using Girls to Pay Debt

Farmers hit by crop woes give daughters as 'opium brides'
By Kate Rockwood,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2008 6:24 PM CDT
An Afghan police man destroying the opium poppies on the field during a poppy eradication operations in Tarin Kowt in Urugzan Southern province of Afghanistan, Sunday.   (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
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(Newser) – Besieged by debt, more Afghan farmers are paying lenders by handing over their girls as "loan brides," Newsweek reports. Often taken from their families forever, the girls—some younger than 5 years old—are commonly beaten or pushed to suicide by their fate. "My heart is still with my parents, brothers and sisters," one girl said. "Only my body is with my husband's family."

The transaction can also leave parents shattered. "Until the end of my life I will feel shame because of what I did to my daughter," one father said. "I still can't look her in the eye." But economic woes are pushing them to use children as currency: Kabul is destroying heroin crops and trying to replace them with wheat or corn worth one tenth the price. Medical woes or crop failure can be just as bad. And "lenders never show any mercy," one opium farmer said.