A DESPERATE Afghan father was forced to sell his five-year-old daughter to a 52-year-old man in a bid to feed his starving family.
Qadir, 35, an impoverished labourer in the north-west of the war-torn country, has spent the past two years waiting for the paedophile to come and collect his “goods”.
The father, who has six other children including a baby daughter, used to earn £2 a day – however since the Taliban took over in August, his earnings have diminished even further.
He says: “I don’t have money for food. I am scared for my kids because in winter they will die due to cold.”
Two years ago, Qadir sold his eldest daughter Zohra, then aged five, for £1,386 to a stranger.
He told the Daily Mail: “I had to sell her to keep the others alive. I didn’t have a choice.”
Asked how she feels about being sold, the tearful girl, now aged seven, says: “I’m scared.”
Her father says: “She cries all the time. She asks her mother why we sold her. Her future is ruined.
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“I am unsure how the man will live with her, as she is so small. I can’t sleep.”
The payment for Zohra had now been spent, mostly on medical bills for the family’s four sons.
UNICEF has issued an urgent warning as baby girls as young as 20 days old are being offered up for marriage.
The charity said they received “credible reports” of the days-old babies promised for future marriages in exchange for a dowry in Afghanistan.
The charity estimates 28 per cent of Afghan women aged between 15 and 49 are married off before they reach 18.
Even before the hardline Taliban group seized back control of the country, 20 years of war, drought and a pandemic have left millions in the country starving.
BABIES BEING SOLD
There were 183 child marriages and ten cases of children being sold over 2018 and 2019 in Herat and Baghdis provinces alone.
Afghanistan’s grim economic state has been made worse by the withdrawal of foreign aid, which accounted for three quarters of public spending.
The former government’s cash reserves have also been frozen after the Taliban takeover.
At the end of August, the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) warned that the country would soon run out of food.
With 18.5 million Afghans relying on aid, the WFP said it was struggling to get supplies into the country.
Taliban fighters ride in a convoy of US-made humvees[/caption]
Afghans are facing a grim future under the Taliban[/caption]