(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

“I sold my daughter to feed the rest of my family”

Sayed Ali said he had to sell his daughter to save the rest of his family from starvation
Parwin Arzo/IRIN

Sayed Ali (not his real name) said he sold his 11-year-old daughter, Rabia, for US$2,000 to a man in Sheberghan city, Jawzjan Province in northern Afghanistan to feed his wife and three younger children.

[Listen to a radio version of this report in Dari]

With food prices in Afghanistan having soared over the past few months and the 40-year-old father unable to find work, he said he had no other choice but to sell his daughter to save his family from starvation.

“Even animals don’t sell their children, because they love them and want to die for them, not to mention human beings. For too many days I stood next to roads and asked people for work, but always ended up disappointed. I couldn’t go home empty-handed and disappoint my starving children, so I used to scavenge in garbage and collect leftover food.

“I would lie to my family and say I bought them food from the market. But now it’s even hard to find anything edible in the garbage because of [increasing] food prices. People now eat all their food because it’s very expensive and also the numbers of those who scavenge in garbage has increased.

“Because I am illiterate, no one will give me a job. I am illiterate because of war and poverty. I didn’t go to school because my parents wanted me to work. My children also don't go to school and they’ll also be brought up illiterate like me.

''How can someone sell his own child? It’s like selling your eyes or selling your heart!''

“How can someone sell his own child? It’s like selling your eyes or selling your heart!

“As no one would give me work I had no other option but to sell my lovely daughter. I sold her only to save the rest of my family. I sold her only to buy food for my younger children who otherwise would have died from hunger.

“I know people will say I am a cruel and merciless father who sold his own child, but those who say so don't know my hardship and have never felt the hunger that my family suffers.

“I know other poor people who don’t have children and say, if necessary, they will blow themselves up [in a suicide attack] and kill other people in order to feed their families.

“I hope the government will hear my voice and help people like me to find jobs and feed our families.”


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