Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, November 22, 2021

In Afghanistan, Climate Change Drives an Uptick in Child Marriage

From Undark Magazine:

Child marriage is not a new phenomenon in South Asia, and despite attempts to legislate against it, the practice remains common across Afghanistan. Reports suggest a spike in such marriages, spurred by the violence that preceded the Taliban takeover, and by the effects of climate change on this agrarian country. Over the past half century, temperatures here have risen nearly twice the amount they have globally, speeding up evaporation and leading to extended droughts. This, experts say, has decreased crop yields and plunged many Afghans into poverty as they are no longer able to make a living from the land. With few viable employment options, some families are turning to a traditional wedding custom known as toyana, whereby money is given to the family of the girl. With little time to spare, these families say, the best available option is a heart-wrenching one: to marry their daughters while the girls are still young. 

Child marriages are not usually documented in Afghanistan and data collection is limited. However, several nongovernmental organizations have observed a rise in child marriages, corresponding with increased periods of drought. In 2018, for example, the worst Afghan drought in a decade affected two-thirds of the country and displaced more people than the growing conflict between the Taliban rebels and the Afghan government. A report from UNICEF that same year noted that “drought has exacerbated the practice of child marriage affecting at least 161 children” from two provinces.

Read more here.

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