A 12-year old girl, with fiery green eyes and defiance on her face, becomes payment for debts of a failed opium farmer. This Atlantic article describes the highlight of Fariba Nawa’s new book, “Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords, and One Woman’s journey Through Afghanistan.” The writer met this young girl in the early 2000′s, where she describes the streets to be littered with opium addicts and countless widows whose husbands were lost smuggling drugs. Since the fall of the Taliban and the push to eliminate illegal opium from the area, many opium farmers have fallen on hard times. Paying debts with marriage has become more common. Often these girls are very young, and it is estimated that more than half of Afghanistan’s female population is married under the legal age limit.the shame the young girl’s father feels for having to sell his daughter’s hand in marriage in order for the rest of the family to survive. Although many of these farmers cannot seem to find another source of income, the article describes one woman who used her poppy farming profits to buy her son a taxi and her daughter a carpet frame, thus providing alternative revenue enabling the family to leave the poppy business.
The casualties of drugs often go much deeper than I ever imagined….
Photo courtesy of The Atlantic .