New York [US], November 12 (ANI): UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta Fore on Friday expressed concern regarding reports of the increasing number of child marriages in Afghanistan following the country's takeover by the Taliban.
"We have received credible reports of families offering daughters as young as 20 days old up for future marriage in return for a dowry," Fore said in a statement.
"Even before the latest political instability, UNICEF's partners registered 183 child marriages and 10 cases of selling of children over 2018 and 2019 in Herat and Baghdis provinces alone. The children were between 6 months and 17 years of age," she added.
Fore stated that the dire economic situation in Afghanistan forces families there to make desperate choices such as marrying girls off at a very young age. She added, "The COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing food crisis and the onset of winter have further exacerbated the situation for families."
"The extremely dire economic situation in Afghanistan is pushing more families deeper into poverty and forcing them to make desperate choices, such as putting children to work and marrying girls off at a young age," Fore said.
She also called on the authorities to prioritize the reopening of schools for girls and allow female teachers to return to their work without any further delays.
This statement comes as UNICEF has started to distribute cash assistance to offset the risk of hunger. The UN agency is working with religious leaders in Afghanistan to ensure that they are not involved in the child marriage contract.
UNICEF estimates that 28 per cent of Afghan women aged 15-49 years were married before the age of 18.
Respecting women's rights is one of the preconditions set by the members of the international community for recognising Taliban led government in the country. (ANI)