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6-year-old Afghan girl saved from marriage to pay off debt

Naghma, child bride
Naghma, child bride
Liberty Unyielding

The photograph accompanying this article could come from an appeal by one of the relief organizations that advertise on late-night TV, informing you that for pennies a day you can feed a starving child. In actuality, this doe-eyed 7-year-old was saved from a fate far worse than starvation.

CNN has the outrageous story of this child of present-day Afghanistan. Her name is Naghma, and last year when she was 6, her father, Taj Mohammad, found himself saddled with crushing debt. Unable to come up with the $2,500 he had borrowed to cover his wife’s medical bills, he offered the loan shark the only fungible asset he had — his daughter’s hand in marriage.

CNN goes on with this story of heartache and remorse, but let us pause a second and reflect on the facts presented so far. A father, here in the twenty-first century, is willing to sell his own flesh and blood of a tender age as chattel to expunge a debt. Equally incomprehensible is the fact that the deal was accepted! Try to imagine, if you can, the nature of the pedophilia that would permit an adult knowingly to consummate a relationship with a 6-year-old.

CNN quotes Taj Mohammad as saying:

It was a difficult decision. Everyone gives away their child but to give Naghma away like that was just so hard.

It was a “difficult decision”?

Fortunately, a human rights group heard about the child’s fate and contacted a Milwaukee-based lawyer named Kimberly Motley, who had experience in Afghanistan defending “women” like Naghma pro bono. Motley was successful in arranging a meeting of elders in the village where this atrocity took place, and an anonymous donor agreed to cover Taj Mohammad's debt.

Said Motley:

I'm certainly very happy that Naghma did not have to be married off at the age of 6, so I'm pleased with that. But I'd like to make sure she gets an education and becomes successful.

Taj Mohammad expressed a similar wish for his daughter. He adds:

When I couldn't pay my debt I felt like I'd been thrown into the fire, and then someone rescued me — that was Kim. She has been so kind to me I'm ready to do whatever Kim says.

Here’s hoping she tells him not to have any more kids!

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