10-Year-Old Afghan Girl Sold Into Marriage So Father Could Feed 5 Other Children

A woman in Afghanistan is fighting to raise enough money to finalize a divorce for her 10-year-old daughter, whose father sold her into an arranged marriage.

Aziz Gul's husband sold the 10-year-old girl into marriage to secure enough money to feed their other five children, according to the Associated Press. Arranged marriages aren't uncommon in Afghanistan, but Gul, who was married off at 15-years-old, resisted the deal and secured a divorce for her daughter. However, she needs to raise $1,000 to pay back the money her husband received.

"My heart stopped beating," Gul told the Associated Press, describing how she felt when she learned about the marriage. "I wished I could have died at that time, but maybe God didn't want me to die ... Each time I remember that night ... I die and come back to life."

In early December, the Taliban government banned the forced marriage of women in Afghanistan, saying that men and women "should be equal." The decision came as Afghanistan's been put under an international spotlight following the Taliban's takeover.

The Taliban's rise to power raised international concern about the fate of women in the country. While promising a new era of its reign, the Taliban's actions haven't coincided with their comments about making men and women equal. Early promises were couched around terms of it falling within the framework of Sharia or "within our cultural framework," offering a vague vision.

afghan arranged marriages
Afghan parents have had to sell their children into arranged marriages to put food on their tables amid surges in poverty. Women hold placards during a protest in Kabul on October 26, 2021, calling for the international community to speak out in support of Afghans living under Taliban rule. James Edgar/AFP/Getty Images

Months after their summer takeover, a majority of women remain banned from their jobs and thousands of girls have been barred from attending school.

After alleging that he sold the 10-year-old to save the rest of their family, Gul's husband fled their home. She believes it's possible he believed she might denounce him to authorities. While she had the help of village elders and her brother in securing her daughter's divorce, she told the Associated Press she can only fend off the family of the prospective 21-year-old groom for so long.

"If I can't provide money to pay these people and can't keep my daughter by my side, I have said that I will kill myself," she told the Associated Press. "But then I think about the other children. What will happen to them? Who will feed them?" Her eldest is 12, her youngest–her sixth–just two months."

Gul isn't the only Afghan facing the prospect of losing her child to a much older groom. Poverty is surging throughout the country since the withdrawal of troops and ABC News reported forced marriages are becoming more commonplace in areas where people are struggling to feed their families.

Hamid Abdullah, a father of four, told the Associated Press that he's had to sell his young daughters into marriages to help pay for treatments for his chronically ill wife and to pay for food.

"When we made the decision, it was like someone had taken a body part from me," Bibi Jan, his wife, told the Associated Press.

Too Young to Wed, an American-based non-profit, helped to relocate a 9-year-old girl who was sold into an arranged marriage, her mother and siblings, to a safe house. However, Stephanie Sinclair, the founder, told CNN that it's only a "temporary solution" and the goal needs to be preventing the sale from going through.