14 September 2009

Child Marries The Money Lender -- Dad Now Debt Free

This is one of those moments that you just sit back in your chair, shake your head, and say WTF is wrong with the world.

Being a father of a wonderful and cute son, I cannot fathom ever contemplating trading the little fella in to pay off a debt. Maybe I do not understand absolute poverty and the absolute desperation that comes with such abject poverty, but all the same my humanity does not allow me to consider my son as a chattel that can be bought, sold, or traded.

Yet, the police in Muladi in Southern Bangladesh are investigating the reports that a 13-year-old has been married off to a 75-year-old money lender as a way of paying off a debt owed by the father to the money lender. The police have yet to unravel the alleged financial arrangements and what the transaction involved.

However, it is reported that the debt was for about 4000 taka, which is about AUD 66. The debt apparently arose when the girl's father borrowed some money from the money lender for repairs to the family home after cyclone Aila in May 2009. It is also reported that the father of the girl also borrowed a cow from the money lender.

In Bangladesh's defense, it is a criminal offense to marry a girl under 18 years of age.However, the practice of child brides is allegedly rampant among Muslims, and many parents alter the age of their daughters on official documents in order to skirt this prohibition.

As I said, I cannot imagine the desperation that would lead one to, in essence, sell their child.

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