The risks of early marriage, a practice prevalent throughout rural Afghanistan, include serious implications for the health of young brides. According to the United Nations Population Fund, “Nearly a tenth of Afghan adolescent females (aged 15–19) give birth every year as a consequence of early marriage.”
This large number of young girls fare much worse in childbirth that those of a more mature age. “The pregnancy-related mortality ratio of women aged 15 to 19 in Afghanistan is estimated at 531 deaths per 100,000 live births compared to 257 deaths per 100,000 live births for young women between the ages of 20 and 24 years.”
Our Community Health Workers (CHW) encourage community members to seek essential vaccinations and medications at the Clinic and get the critically ill to seek treatment at the hospital, but they also serve their communities as respected educators and essential intermediaries. A CHW recently intervened in the case of a young bride, and was able to release her from an engagement.
From the clinic:
A CHW reported that, on a home visit, a young girl told her that she was engaged to her cousin without her permission. The young girl asked the CHW to speak with her mother, which she felt she couldn’t do without being beaten. The CHW spoke with her mother and told her that her daughter did not want to marry her cousin. The young girl’s mother took her message to the head of her family, and was able to release the young girl from the engagement.
This case is typical of child brides. “Child marriages are usually aimed at strengthening ties with rival families and tribes, as part of deals or to settle debts and disputes. Poor families often end up selling daughters for large dowries from wealthy people and the husbands are usually much older. The decisions to sell off girls for marriage are made by men, and wives, mothers, sisters and the girls themselves having little or no say.”
Through education and intervention, Empowerment Health can help end child marriage in Afghanistan. Help us win this fight: Give now.