In a sprawling settlement of mud brick huts in western Afghanistan, a woman fights to save her daughter.
Aziz Gul’s husband sold the 10-year-old girl, Qandi, into marriage without telling his wife. He took a down payment so that he could buy food for his family of five children.
And he’s not alone. More and more people in Afghanistan are growing destitute. Many make desperate decisions as their nation spirals into poverty.
Gul remembers well the moment she found out her husband had sold Qandi. For around two months, the family had been able to eat. Eventually, she asked her husband: Where did the money came from? He told her.
“My heart stopped beating,” Gul says. “I wished I could have died at that time, but maybe God didn’t want me to die.”
Afghanistan has faced four decades of war, a punishing drought, and the coronavirus pandemic. It was already teetering when the Taliban seized power there in mid-August.
The Taliban rules with brutality. As U.S. and NATO troops withdrew this summer, the international community halted all funding to Afghanistan, unwilling to work with a Taliban government.
Legions of state employees, including doctors, haven’t been paid in months. More than half of all Afghans face food shortages.
Arranging marriages for very young girls is a frequent practice throughout the region. The groom’s family—often distant relatives—pays money to seal the deal. The child usually stays with her own parents until she is at least around 15 or 16. Yet with many unable to afford even basic food, some say they’d allow grooms to take very young girls. Some are also trying to sell their sons.
But Gul is resisting. She was married off herself at 15. She does not want the same thing to happen to Qandi.
Gul rallied her community, telling her brother and village elders that her husband had sold her child behind her back. They supported her. With their help, Gul secured a “divorce” for her child, but only on condition she repays the 100,000 afghanis (about $1,000) that her husband received.
It’s money she doesn’t have.
The family of the prospective groom, a man of around 21 or 22, has already tried several times to claim the girl, she says. She is not sure how long she can fend them off.
To “redeem” means to buy back. Theologically, redemption means Jesus gave His life to save us (buy us back) from the punishment for our sins. As an old song puts it: “He paid a debt He did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay.”
How can Gul and others like her redeem their children? Readers like you long to help. They long to be like Jesus, and “pay the debt they do not owe.” But work must be done to make that possible. Right now, international aid workers scramble to negotiate with the Taliban to make helping possible.
You can pray for the redemption of Afghanistan’s children. Start now.
Hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with Him is plentiful redemption. — Psalm 130:7
Why? Afghan people are in desperate need for daily provisions. Some even resort to what seems unthinkable to us—selling their children to buy food. Children sold in Afghanistan urgently need to be redeemed. Your prayers will help.