Domestic violence is still common in Afghanistan even in the cities and among educated people in the society. There are different types of women rights violation exist but, receiving a huge amount of money in exchange of girls for marriage purpose is one of the negative and common custom which results to serious woman rights violation. The custom of selling girls for marriage purpose was common in poor communities in the past but, during the civil war it has spread in most communities even inside the cities. This custom coerce the man to pay or commit an amount of between 6000$ to 15000$ for the parents of girl before marriage ceremony. Since, this is a huge amount of money, in most cases family of the man is not able to pay this amount at once and both side agree to pay this amount in various installments. In poor families, still the man has to work hard to find this amount and this is not possible in Afghanistan. As a result, the man/fiancé has to travel to Iran, Pakistan or Arabic countries to make the money and it takes more than one and sometimes two or three years. There are cases that after man comes back from abroad, he faced unexpected behaviors of girls’ family or tragedy of divorce before marriage. In some cases, when after two or three years the man come back from abroad, the girl doesn’t want to marry him or the girl’s parents already sold her to another man/family. However, they already received more than one installment of the money from the first person.
Herewith, we report one of the many same nature women rights violation case, which is successfully resolved by one of the IWPR project beneficiaries in Jawzjan province in favor of the girl after two months of hard discussions with both families and different stakeholders.
In this case, a man and woman engaged more than 8 years ago in Qazanchi village of Sheberghan. The man/his family committed to pay 400,000 AFN equivalent to about 8,000$ (exchange rate of 8 years ago) to girl’s family. The girl family agreed and engagement happened according to local custom. But, to get marry, the fiancé has to pay all agreed amount. And to prepare this money, he has to go to Iran for work. Nevertheless, after four years of hard work in Iran, he was only able to send half of agreed amount (50%) but not all of the money. When he came back to Afghanistan two years ago, the family of the girl didn’t let him to marry their girl unless he hasn’t paid the whole agreed amount. In the other hand, the man was not able to pay the money but, his fiancée herself wanted to hold on their marriage ceremony as soon as possible because, she was wondering that her parents might sell her to someone else.
When our project intern Ms. Parwana faced this tragic case in her community, she immediately started discussion with family of the Fiancé, and let them understand about man and women rights in marriage issue and asked them for permission to talk with girl’s family. Following on, she talked with fiancée’s family and inform them about EVAW law and punishments can be decided for them by court for what they are doing with their daughter. Also, the family of the fiancée received advises from Ms. Parwana on what can be happened to them and their daughter if they sell her to another person and she assured them that they are killing all happiness of their daughter. But, still the family of girl didn’t agree for this marriage unless they have not received the whole agreed amount.
The second step that Parwana took over, she talked with and encouraged the girl to discuss her situation with her family and inform them about legal steps that she can take at the end of the day if they want to sell her to someone else. In the other side, she encouraged the fiancé to talk with elders and ask them for mediation. She also advised the fiancé to document the elder’s Shura decision and as a final pressure tool bring it to the family of his fiancée. And if still they didn’t accept the elders’ decision which is based on Sharia and law, then together with his fiancée register a complain to related governmental organizations. Ms. Parwana also talked the issue with legal advisor of Women Affair department in order to pave the ground for better support of the girl for her right to marriage.
Finally, with pressures put on the family of the girl, they respected decision of their girl after 8 years and accepted her marriage without receiving the rest of agreed amount.
The above noted success story is one of the twelve cases which is successfully resolved with advises and interfere of IWPR project interns in the project target provinces.
Studying different cases that our project interns involved in their communities (apart from 85 legal cases they were involved in), shows high level their capacity, their understanding of woman right, legislations and social structure. According to reports provided by project interns about their social activities and also checked and confirmed by AHRRAO’s provincial coordinators, with some exceptions all IWPR project interns are turned to be strong social activists and play very good role within their communities to support women’s human rights.