21:35 GMT +320 September 2018
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    Girl plays outside during a wedding party in Kabul, Afghanistan

    Lost Childhood: Afghan Child Bride’s Harrowing Story of Marriage at 15

    © AFP 2018 / Lynne Sladky
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    In Afghanistan, 75% of girls are forced into marriage between the ages of 11 to 15 and the statistics show that this tendency is on the rise, according to the report of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights.

    Maliha is 21 years old now, in her 6th year of marriage and already has two daughters and a son.  She spoke to Sputnik in an interview about getting married as a child and bearing children at such a young age.

    “Of course, six years ago, when I was just 15, I was very silly. It seemed to me that all the girls would be jealous about the fact that I got a marriage proposal. I was just thinking about my beautiful wedding dress, the reality of it all came later,” Maliha said.

    She further said that the groom was chosen by her parents. “Back then I had no doubt that it should be the choice of my parents and that is the only right choice for me.”

    “On the one hand, my parents made their choice not wanting to harm me. On the other hand, it was wrong of them not to consult with me. Now I realize that I did not even see my husband at the time everything was decided. I would have discussed it with them,” Maliha told Sputnik.

    Talking about her life after marriage she said that she was lucky that she and her husband got a separate house, so they did not have to huddle together with relatives, as it often is the case in Afghanistan. According to her, living with relatives often leads to many problems.

    “I want to mention that my husband always handled our quarrels with restraint and wisdom, realizing that I was still a child. But I know that in other families it is different.”

    “Men do not have enough patience, as well as respect for their young wives. But with us everything is smooth, quiet and good. Seemingly, that is why we have managed to live together for 6 years now,” Maliha said.

    She further said that she has 6 sisters and 5 of them were married as minors, only one got married at 18.

    Refugees sleep outside the entrance of the Swedish Migration Agency's arrival center for asylum seekers at Jagersro in Malmo, Sweden, November 20, 2015.
    © REUTERS / Stig-Ake Jonsson/TT News Agency/Files
    “Each of my sisters can tell you how much pain and harassment they had to endure from their husbands and his relatives. There was no peace.”

    However, she said that she is deeply convinced that the problem is not related to domestic circumstances but the fact that women are married off at a very young age in Afghanistan.

    “She does not have any experience or even the ability to think independently and make basic decisions; hence, she doesn’t understand much about the complexities of family life,” Maliha said.

    She further noted that she understands the fact that for a father of 5 daughters it is not easy to raise so many children.

    “I know why my dad and even my mother wanted to quickly marry us off so they found me a husband. I remember how I left my parents’ home when I was going to my husband’s house. Even now these memories create a lump in my throat,” she said.

    She recalled feeling sad, anxious and afraid. “It was like going into complete unknown but trusting that your parents they have made the right choice,” Maliha concluded.

    Young girls in Afghanistan are commonly used as bartering tools to settle disputes or arrange marriages between families.

    Despite efforts by the international community to strengthen the country’s formal justice system, where the legal age of marriage for women is 16, Afghans still largely prefer traditional forms of mediation over the country’s legal courts.

    A recent UN report showed how the Afghan court system fails to provide access for women, with the result that only 5% of domestic violence cases end in criminal prosecution.

    According to Human Rights Watch, 95% of girls and 50% of women in Afghanistan’s prisons are jailed for “moral crimes”, such as running away from home to escape a violent husband.

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    child brides, community, disputes, interview, United Nations, Afghanistan
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