The murder of a 9-year-old girl, allegedly by her 35-year-old husband, is punctuating a disturbing UN report on child marriages in Afghanistan. A bride at age 7, the girl identified as Samia was beaten and strangled to death in the Qads district of Badghis province on Sunday, per Tolo News. Naqibullah Amini, a rep for the provincial governor, named her husband, Sharafuddin, as the suspect who "fled the area after the incident." Samia's father has since been arrested "for forcing his daughter to marry the man," who has another wife, Amini added. He suggested the girl was married off to settle a family debt known as baad, though Hashim Ahmadi of the Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan tells the Guardian the girl was sold for $13,500.
"She is not alone," says Ahmadi. "Hundreds of girls become victims of such violence every day in Afghanistan," where laws banning child marriages and baad are "not implemented in most parts of the country." News of the murder comes days after a joint report by UNICEF and the Afghan government indicated more than one in three Afghan girls become child brides, though that figure represents a 10% decline from five years ago, per the Guardian. The report, which also claims 42% of Afghan households saw at least one family member married before 18, quotes Faizullah Zaki, the Afghan minister of labour, social affairs, martyrs and disabled, as referring to child marriages as "an appalling violation of human rights [that] robs children of their education, health and childhood." (Read more Afghanistan stories.)