Aftermath of an Afghan Child Bride


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  • Project Description: Afghanistan has been the primary focus of my work for the past eleven years. While working on my project “Forgotten Afghanistan,” I met Zarghona. Her youngest son Barialy, was partially paralyzed by rocket fire during the Afghan Civil War [1992 - 1996]. A friendship resulted between Zarghona and myself while working with her and her family several times during the past two years. Pieces of her life have been slowly revealed. The most troubling event in her life, for me, was learning that she had become a child bride at ten. [ She is just one of the 60-80% of girls in Afghanistan that have been in a forced or under-aged marriage.] Her father had sold her to a widower, Ghalam-Fariq, who was forty years older than Zarghona. He had three older children and she became a servant in the household. Zarghona had two miscarriages before having her first live birth at fifteen.

    When I meet Zarghoma in 2013 she was begging on a busy street in downtown Kabul. She must sit with her disabled son Barialy for several hours every day, long enough for her to collect ten to fifteen dollars. This amount will enable her to buy the food for her family that day. Zarghona is now [2014] working in a different location, in front of the Justice Department. I was not able to take photos at that site. Zarghona and part of the family moved away from the Old City and are now in a rental apartment in the Shah Said District. The Old City is where the home was that she lived in last year. That home was destroyed in a snowstorm when the roof collapsed.

    Barialy, Zarghoma’s invalid son, has grown considerably in the span of one year, making him extremely difficult for her to carry. Ghalam-Fariq, her husband, is now ninety-three and still goes to his bookstore each day, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for him. I expect to return to Afghanistan in the near future to continue working on this story.