Tuesday, April 01, 2008

"Opium Flowers" The Child Brides of Afghanistan



Khalida's father says she's 9—or maybe 10. As much as Sayed Shah loves his 10 children, the functionally illiterate Afghan farmer can't keep track of all their birth dates. Khalida huddles at his side, trying to hide beneath her chador and headscarf. They both know the family can't keep her much longer. Khalida's father has spent much of his life raising opium, as men like him have been doing for decades in the stony hillsides of eastern Afghanistan and on the dusty southern plains. It's the only reliable cash crop most of those farmers ever had. Even so, Shah and his family barely got by: traffickers may prosper, but poor farmers like him only subsist. Now he's losing far more than money. "I never imagined I'd have to pay for growing opium by giving up my daughter," says Shah................

Eradication efforts aren't the only thing pushing opium marriages. Poppy acreage is expanding in Helmand province, but loan brides are common there, too, says Bashir Ahmad Nadim, a local journalist. He says moneylenders in Helmand are always looking for "opium flowers"— marriageable daughters ready for plucking if crop failure or family emergency forces a borrower into default. In the south's drug-fueled economy, fathers of opium brides often get hefty cash bonuses on top of having their debts forgiven.more


Anonymous said...

Opium production 'on the rise in SE Asia'


Anonymous said...