Young Girl Who Was Sold to 'Old Man' for $2,200 in Afghanistan Rescued and Relocated

A nine-year-old girl who was sold by her father in Afghanistan was returned home after her story circulated on social media and caused a public outcry.

On October 24, Parwana Malik was sold by her father to an older man for approximately $2,200 after the family was unable to afford food, CNN reported. Her family said they begged him not to sell her but he said he had no other choice.

After being returned back home to her family, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization called Too Young To Wed (TYTW) got involved in the family's situation as well as other families who sold their young daughters due to a lack of food.

The aid group was able to relocate the young girls, their siblings, and their mothers to a safe house. In a statement, TYTW said the operation was designed and implemented by Afghan women.

TYTW also mentioned Basir Mohamadi, a team member for the organization, who managed the family negotiations, sensitization of "local de facto governing authorities," risk management, long-term preventative measures, and security assistance.

"I'm so happy," Malik told CNN during the rescue. "The [charity] rid me from my husband and my husband is old."

Malik said the man who bought her frequently treated her poorly, cursed at her and forced her to do labor. Her mother also said her daughter was beaten and begged to be returned home.

Stephanie Sinclair, the founder of TYTW, told CNN that relocation is a temporary solution for a larger problem. She said the real goal is to prevent young girls from finding themselves at risk of being sold into marriage.

After the Taliban assumed control of Afghanistan in mid-August, the country has faced severe economic disparities. Currently, more than 12 million Afghans face hunger, and malnutrition rates are spiking, according to the UN.

The UN reported more than 600,000 Afghans, mostly women and children, were displaced this year. Many currently rely on humanitarian aid for food and shelter. Malik's family, for example, have lived at an Afghan displacement camp for the past four years and survive on small jobs and aid to provide food.

Malik's father Abdul said he tried everything in order to not have to sell his daughters but was faced with selling his 12-year-old daughter into marriage and later 9-year-old Parwana.

"Day by day, the numbers are increasing of families selling their children," human rights activist Mohammad Naiem Nazem told CNN. "Lack of food, lack of work, the families feel they have to do this."

Although it is technically illegal to marry a child under the age of 15 it is still a common practice, especially in rural parts of Afghanistan. But as the economy began crumbling in August, many basic women's rights have been stripped and their families face famine and poverty.

"It is a moral imperative that the international community does not abandon the women and girls of Afghanistan," Sinclair told CNN. "Every life matters, and the lives that we can save [will] better the experience of their whole family and their community."

Malik said she wants to continue her education and is excited at the prospect of one day becoming a doctor.

Newsweek reached out to Too Young To Wed for comment.

Afghanistan Landscape
Parwana Malik, 9, was returned to her family after her story of being sold to an older man in Afghanistan circulated the internet. A mother and daughter walk toward the old city of Bamiyan on November 9, 2009. Shah Marai/Getty Images