Girls forced to marry share their stories

Women who have been forced to marry against their will have different stories to tell, some say poverty was the driving factor, while others said the reason was fear of the Taliban marrying them off.

A research organization that asked not to be identified for security reasons said they have recorded at least 2,200 cases of forced marriages in the past year, of which 900 were girls married off to Taliban members.

“I was not ready but was forced to marry”

Shukria, from Balkh province, is being forced to marry after being stopped from attending university.

She said her family insists she marries in order to prevent the Taliban from forcing her “to marry one of their members.”

“My father told me several times that the situation is not good. It is not good for a young girl [to stay at her father’s home] and I must marry someone. My mother also agreed. My mother feared that the Taliban could force me to marry [one of their members]. My relatives also used to tell my father to make me marry someone. Although I am not ready to get married, I will, but now I am not happy.”

Shukria had hoped to get a bachelor’s degree at Balkh university, but the Taliban takeover destroyed all her dreams, she said. Now, she is engaged to be married to a man she doesn’t know – something that worries her.

I agreed to get married out of fear that I would be forced to marry a Taliban, she said.

Zubaida, who lives in Herat, was a Law and Political Science student at Herat University until she had her education cut short. She said the Taliban’s decision to ban women from getting a higher education destroyed her dreams and she ended up having to marry a relative.

Zubaida, 22, said that there have been rumors over the past six months that the Taliban is forcing young women to marry their fighters; therefore, my family was scared and “my father told me that I must get married to preserve the honor of my family.”

She said that education was a priority for her and that she was not ready to get married. “I wanted to serve my society and wanted to have a job and be independent. But a bad situation and hard times forced me to get married. It has been a few days since I got married, I am not happy, my dreams were destroyed.”

“I forced my daughter to get married due to hardship”

A number of families have been forced to marry their daughters off in return for a dowry, due to poverty and unemployment.

Lal Mohammad, 60, works at a government office in Laghman province. His family is struggling financially, especially after his son, the main breadwinner in the family, lost his job following the Taliban takeover.

Financial issues forced Lal Mohammad to marry off his 17-year-old daughter to a 35-year-old man in return for 400,000 AFN ($4,500). He said what he did was wrong, but that he had no choice due to poverty.

“My daughter was a school student. But we faced a lot of financial problems. My son was unemployed, I had no choice because we had nothing to eat at home. Who wants his young daughter to marry a 35 -year-old man?” asked Lal Mohammad.

He said his daughter had been very unhappy about getting married as “she wanted to become a nurse, but the situation was not good.”

Forced marriages increased after the Taliban takeover

These girls are not, however, the only victims of forced marriages in the country, in fact, they are only a handful as reports indicate that thousands of girls have been subjected to this since the Taliban gained control in August 2021 and started imposing severe restrictions on women.

Based on reports, as many as 2,200 girls and women have been forced into marriage over the past 17 months. Despite a global outcry against the restrictions being imposed by the Taliban, the group does not appear to be changing its policies toward women in Afghanistan.