Surviving child marriage

Surviving child marriage

  • Afghanistan
  • Child Protection
  • Story

August 7, 2020

Benesh*, 14, lives in Afghanistan. Her parents sold her into marriage when she was 11 and she now has an 18-month old son. Benesh lives in a displacement camp with her new family, forced from home because of conflict and drought. Benesh tells her story in her own words.

I didn’t know that my parents had sold me. I thought I was going to a picnic. My parents got $3000 USD as a bride price for me and they forced me to get married. I was 11 years old.

My husband’s family kept saying you are married now. You won’t be seeing your family anymore; we will be your parents and that man is your husband. There was no wedding ceremony.

I couldn’t stop crying. Some girls in the neighbourhood took me to a garden to play together to help me feel more comfortable. Gradually I got used to the new situation.

After a few months I felt sick. I was vomiting and had a headache. They took me to a doctor and the doctor told my husband’s family that I was pregnant.

I didn’t know what it meant to be pregnant.

Watch Benesh share her story in this video:

One of my neighbours explained to me that I would be getting a big belly and that would mean that I was going to have a baby. I was afraid.

It is difficult to look after a baby. I see girls my age playing outside, but I have my own child to play with.

If I have a daughter, I want her to be educated and not like me, an illiterate person. I would allow her to grow up and decide whether to get married or not.

I haven’t seen my family for three years, and I miss them a lot. I would like to see them.

If I had the chance, I would tell them not to marry off their young girls like me.”

Benesh shared her story at a camp medical clinic during a prenatal visit for her second child. World Vision works with local leaders and families in Afghanistan to end early marriage and keep girls in school. However, World Vision research warns an additional four million girls are at risk of child marriage in the next two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These children face dangerous threats, but they have incredible strength and resiliency to overcome these dark challenges to survive, recover and build a new future. Learn more about how you can help prevent more stories like Benesh.

* name changed to protect her identity.

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One in three

Afghani girls are married before they turn 18.

More than 10%

of registered refugees in the world today are from Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a primarily agricultural country in Central Asia, producing some of the world's best pomegranates, grapes and sweet melons. The country has been in an ongoing conflict with the Taliban since 2001, a radical political group that has waged all out war against the government and taken control of many parts of the country.

In Afghanistan our projects focus on community building programmes. Their success relies heavily on collaboration with local community and faith leaders. Sensitively administered with respect for local culture and beliefs the programme currently facilitates community awareness sessions for men regarding child marriage and rights of women. We are also providing sessions for women and girls, to ensure they know their worth, feel safe in their community and understand their rights in relation to violence against women and child marriage.

  • In Taliban-occupied areas, the education or employment of women is prohibited
  • Hundreds of thousands of innocent have been killed in the ongoing conflict, and cities have been left in ruins
  • The country experienced a devastating drought in 2019 which destroyed all the crops and 60% of the livestock in Western Afghanistan. The drought drove over 250,000 people from their homes to seek aid, but even the humanitarian camps they came to have run out of food by now. Many parents consider selling their daughters into early marriage to feed the family