Afghanistan

Fathers Barter Daughters Into Marriage To Settle Drug Debts in Afghanistan

The country supplies 90 percent of the world's opiates

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I had been looking for her for 10 years. I nearly got kidnapped searching for her. I wrote a book inspired by her. And tonight, I was about to talk to her.

My fingers trembled as I dialed the number her mother gave me.

We met in summer 2003 in a dusty village in Afghanistan. Darya was a green-eyed, 12-year-old schoolgirl who enjoyed playing barefoot in the sand. Her childhood was cut short when her drug dealer father sold her to a smuggler 34 years older than her. Her father was in debt to traffickers in the country, which supplies 90 percent of the world's opiates. He did what thousands of Afghan fathers are doing—he bartered two of his daughters into marriage to relieve his debt, without the daughters' consent. I was in her village doing a story on the burgeoning $65 billion opium trade, and she was a casualty of this illegal business.

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