A girl walks with her brothers to the local schoolhouse, diligently writes her lessons, and works like a boy til she reaches the fourth grade. Then she learns that she is nothing like a boy. Her parents badly need money, and agree her price, about $4000, with a much older man from their village. She is celebrated, dressed up, and delivered, still crying because she prefers to sleep with her mother. Why is this happening? Can there be another way?
I grew up in Mazar-e Sharif, and studied at American University of Central Asia, where I developed my passion for human rights, women’s empowerment and political freedom. I worked at Jesuit Refugee Service, and now in my graduate studies, I focus on understanding and changing the practice of child marriage.
How could you know that you want something when it has never been presented as a choice? How could you know you didn’t want something else, when the you’ve never been exposed to the faintest glimmer of an alternative? Children are sovereign human beings, and need space and time to know what is in their interest.