Two men have been arrested in Afghanistan after a six-year-old girl was forced to marry a 55-year-old man in exchange for a goat. The child was allegedly sold by her own father to village mullah Seyed Abdolkarim.
The girl's father claims he was desperate for food for his family and sold his daughter for quantities of rice, tea, sugar and cooking oil. He was heard saying that by selling his daughter he had one less mouth to feed.
He insisted that he only agreed to the marriage after the girl's husband, who is the mullah of Obeh, a village in the Herat province of Afghanistan, had sworn not to have sex with her until she turned 18.
After the wedding, Abdolkarim took the child bride to a relative's house in Firozkoh, in Ghor province. The relative initially thought the child was his daughter, however became suspicious after Abdolkarim was seen 'undressing her at night'.
According to news site The Observers, when questioned by the relative Abdolkarim said: "No [she's not my daughter], she's my wife, her father gave her to me."
The relative told a friend, who called the local women's rights bureau in Ghor province, to raise the alarm about the child's marriage. The religious leader was quickly arrested by police.
Footage released by The Observers shows the father being beaten and admonished by local woman for his callous actions. In the video, the child, named only as Gharibgol, can be heard screaming and crying.
According to The Sun , tests carried out at a hospital in Ghor showed no sexual intercourse had taken place between the pair. The girl is reportedly now living with her mother as the women's right's bureau takes up the case on her behalf to secure a divorce and to ensure the father is stripped of his parental rights.
The latest incident of illegal child marriage comes after a 60-year-old Afghan cleric was arrested for allegedly kidnapping a six-year-old girl and marrying her. He claimed that she was a 'religious offering' from her parents.
Women in Afghanistan are allowed to marry from the age of 16, and men from 18. However, a UN survey revealed that 46.4 per cent of Afghan marriages take place before the women turn 18, five years ago Mail Online reports.