Washington, D.C., November 25, 2008
—Child marriage and a lack of access to school are the norm for millions of girls around the world. In northwest Afghanistan, where the strains of a record drought and food crisis mix with traditions that harm girls and women, the challenges are particularly harsh.
New multimedia presentations from the Christian humanitarian agency World Vision focus on the impact of the crises in Afghanistan, commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Nov. 25. The audio-visual presentations on “Being an Afghan Girl” include the following:
- “Child Brides” features a family that has recently sold an 11-year-old daughter into marriage. She is their third young daughter to be given as a bride so they can pay off debts and buy food as they have slid from being subsistence farmers to homeless refugees, to near-destitute.
- “Where Education Can Kill You” profiles a brave father and daughter who risk death by secretly schooling girls in a region where education is off limits to females. Shackled by illiteracy, many girls are subject to traditions that often have them married and mothers before their mid-teens.
- “Before She’s Ready: 15 Places Girls Marry by Age 15” (PDF)is a briefing paper that gives an overview of the causes and devastating consequences of early marriage, and examples of intervention approaches from various countries and regions.
Last year, 57 percent of Afghan girls were married before the legal age of 16, a trend exacerbated by a lack of food and resources. Afghanistan’s fiercest winter in 40 years killed 100,000 head of livestock last season, and skyrocketing grain prices have left farmers unable to feed their livestock and families. In a region hammered by these events, pre-teen daughters have become the means for subsistence farmers to buy themselves out of complete financial ruin.
Similar situations also exist in other countries, with 51 million girls in the developing world already married before the age of 18, and where another 21,000 underage girls marry each day.
World Vision’s related work in Afghanistan includes food-for-education programs that help feed families and provide an incentive to keep girls in school; agricultural training and resources; and support of Herat Regional Hospital and health programmes for women including a project that trains midwives for village practice, emphasizing the importance of regular check-ups during pregnancy and the benefits of later marriage. Expert spokespeople are available for interviews. For more information, contact Geraldine Ryerson-Cruz in Washington at +1.202.572.6302 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ENDWorld Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, please visit worldvision.org/press.