A dad who sold his nine-year-old daughter to a 55-year-old husband has said he is “broken” with guilt – but had claimed he had no choice.
Parwana Malik, who lives in a refugee camp in Afghanistan, fears being beaten by the man after the sale was agreed between the man and her parents.
But in a heartbreaking interview, her dad said that selling his daughter is the only way he can support his family after international aid dried up when the Taliban seized power.
Human rights groups say widespread hunger and desperation mean more and more families are being forced to sell off their children.
In an exchange witnessed by CNN, Parwana’s father Abdul Malik pleaded with the buyer not to beat her.
She tried to struggle as she was dragged away, the network reports.
Abdul told CNN – after saying he wants to shine a light on the desperation that families are facing: “We are eight family members, I have to sell to keep other family members alive.”
The family has lived in a refugee camp in the Badghis province, with Abdul trying to earn small amounts of money when he can.
But with the latest crisis, he said he has been unable to scrape the money together to feed his loved ones, and has had to borrow “lots of money” from relatives.
Speaking to his daughter’s buyer, the weeping dad pleaded: “This is your bride. Please take care of her – you are responsible for her now, please don’t beat her.”
The 55-year-old man claimed he planned to raise Parwana as a member of his family, saying she was “cheap” and would work in his home.
Abdul told CNN he had been searching for work but not had any success, and is now unable to afford basic necessities.
He said he is “broken” with guilt, shame and worry, and said that the money would only sustain the family for a few months.
In another heartbreaking case, a grandmother has described being forced to sell her two granddaughters in order for her family to survive.