This lucky little girl just escaped being a child bride before reaching the second grade.
Via Yahoo! reports:
A 6-year-old Afghan girl sold by her father into an impending marriage to pay off a family medical debt got a reprieve Monday: She will now get to stay with her parents, thanks to an anonymous donor who is paying off the debt of $2,500 through an American lawyer, according to a still-developing New York Times report.
The girl, Naghma, wound up being bartered by father Taj Mohammad after he borrowed the $2,500 from a fellow refugee-camp resident over the course of a year. The money was to pay for a hospital treatment for his wife and medical care for some of his nine children, including a three-year-old who later froze to death. If he couldn’t pay it off in another year, Naghma would be forced to wed the lender’s 17-year-old son.
“They said, ‘Pay back our money,’ and I didn’t have any money, so I had to give my girl,” Mohammad told the New York Times. “I was thankful to them at the time, so it was my decision, but the elders also demanded that I do this.” Soon after the deal was struck, the boy to whom Naghma was engaged insisted that she stop attending school, which she loves, her father said.
Fortunately, according to a Huff Po blog by one of the producers of Dan Rather’s HDNET show, an American lawyer who learned about the case stepped in and rescued Naghma from her unpleasant fate.
Naghma’s story first came to light in late January when an Afghan reporter who works for the BBC found her and her family living in deplorable conditions in a Kabul refugee camp…
When the BBC story ran, it created quite a buzz in Britain and offers of donations poured in. Representatives of the BBC didn’t want to get involved in the brokering of the donations so American attorney Kimberly Motley, who works in Kabul, was contacted and volunteered to make sure the debt was paid and the young girl not forced into marriage.
More than three weeks ago, when Mr. Rather and his production team were in Kabul, a second jirga was held. With Ms. Motley acting as a legal representative, the father Taj Mohammed handed over the cash to the man who was owed. Mohammad then signed a document that said he would never sell one of his daughters again, including young Naghma. That was on March 7. Here is a video clip from that day with the American attorney Motley, the father and tribal elders signing an agreement and handing over the equivalent of $2,500 to settle the debt:
Motley said she was trying to work behind the scenes and worried that Afghan women’s activist groups were pushing the story to the press, even after knowing that it had been resolved. She was concerned that police would arrest Naghma’s father and an already difficult situation for the 6-year-old girl and her seven brothers and sisters would be made worse. A father in jail would mean no possibility of income for a family already living on the edge of life and death. One of Naghma’s brothers had frozen to death this past winter in the squalid conditions of the camp. Soon after the story was published this morning, the Afghan police appeared at the camp. But they couldn’t find Taj Mohammad.
In the agreement brokered by Motley, Naghma’s father also agreed to send all his daughters to school, and allow them to decide when they want to get married and to whom they wed.
Dan Rather Reports will have the complete story of Naghma, and the lawyer that helped her to freedom in a special program later this month on AXS-TV.
Many of you may remember the “Too Young To Wed” story we shared a few months ago. While Naghma is safe for now, there are so many other little girls still in danger across the world.