Behold the happy couple

Engagement photo (Photo by Stephanie Sinclair.)

55 year old Said Mohammed purchased 8 year old Roshan Kasem from her father in 2005. This is a photo of the day of their engagement, September 10, 2005, which took place in Chavosh Village, Afghanistan. When a father agrees to an engagement, Afghan schools dismiss the girl. The “legal” age for marriage in Afghanistan is 16.

This picture and others come from a slide show at Foreign Policy. The child bride of course has no say in the matter. This form of child abuse is said to occur in 57% of the marriage in Afghanistan. The practice has the near certainty of ruining a girl’s life, assuming she survives abuse or medical complications of pregnancy and child bearing at a young age. (Child brides have twice the mortality giving birth as women in their 20s.) Our client state is not the only country that permits this form of outrage on children, but the problem is not insignificant there by any means. Girls in Afghanistan have set themselves on fire to escape abusive marriages. According to Dr. Mohammad Arif Jalali, director of the regional burn hospital of Herat, in the course of a year 76 cases of self-immolation had been brought to the hospital, out of which 47 girls died. Seven more were admitted but discharged when their families demanded it.

There are estimated to be 51 million girls worldwide under the age of 16 married today.

To lessen such outrages, one might think, is a policy that Americans could agree upon. But we are reminded that there is a group here that simply opposes any policy that might give those they consider their adversaries a “victory.” Can’t guess who they are? I’ll give a hint. They are not particularly concerned in general about women’s bodily integrity or even health, beyond insisting they give birth when pregnant. Still can’t say? They are a group not know for using truth to guide their tactics or evidence to inform their policy. Still don’t know? Well, this might refresh your memory. They take a laissez-faire view of sexual mores, unless of course those mores are the object of their bigoted phobias. Then, just to demonstrate their fanatical zealotry, they are willing to even ignore national security. And right now they are worrying themselves whether any person is truly unhinged enough to lead them. To paraphrase Hillary Clinton’s book title: It takes a village idiot.

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