A mother in western Afghanistan faces having to hand over her 5-year-old daughter to a man if she cannot repay a $1,500 debt left by her husband. Siringul Musazey tries to survive with her seven children in a one-room tent in the Shahr Sabz area of Herat province.
With the departure of US-led NATO forces on August 31 last year and the return to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan, severe cuts in international aid have aggravated the dimensions of hunger and misery in the country. According to the UN, while half the country is struggling to feed itself, the number of families who want to sell their children to buy bread is increasing across the country. Musazey spoke to Anadolu Agency about the financial problems she is having.
Thousands of people live in the Shahr Sabz region who have had to migrate to Herat from neighboring provinces such as Badghis, Farah and Ghor due to a drought that has worsened over the past three to four years and conflicts between the Taliban and the previous government. Musazey and his family are part of it. If Musazey cannot repay the debt of $1,500 (157,810 Afghans) left by her husband, she will have to give her daughter Saliha to the beneficiary.
Immigrating to the area from Badghis three years ago with her husband, five daughters and two sons, Musazey now struggles to survive with her family in a tent that offers no protection from the cold and absorbs water when it rains. She and her children sleep at night under thick duvets, trying to avoid the danger of frostbite.
“It is very cold at night. I also have pain in my hands and arms. I’m sick and I’m cold,” she said. The family, which doesn’t even have a stove for heating, has almost nothing to eat. Generally, they eat dry bread with tea and have a cooking gas cylinder and a teapot, two thermoses, a few glasses, plates and bowls as cooking utensils.
Asked what they ate today, Musazey replied: “Tea and a few pieces of dry bread. Yesterday we ate some potatoes brought by the neighbors. We have nothing else to eat. We want to be helped. She and her children can’t even remember the last time they had a good meal. Musazey said her drug addict husband left them and she last saw him eight months ago. She said that when she was living in Badghis, her husband borrowed $1,500 from an acquaintance, which she is unable to repay. “We have to pay our debt, either by paying money or by giving to our child. We are hungry as a family. We have no relatives who can help us. Everyone is poor. I have to give my child for my debt. Nobody helps us. I will sell my daughter or give her in exchange for my debt. The creditor, Khan Hazret, said he had been in good financial health before, and he lent the money to Musazey’s husband to meet his needs. Noting that he is also poor and unable to earn a living, Hazret said he wants to either collect the debt or marry Saliha to his 12-year-old son in return.