An elderly Afghan cleric has been arrested after he married a six-year-old girl, officials said Friday, in the latest case highlighting the scourge of child marriages in the war-battered country.
Mohammad Karim, said to be aged around 60, was held in central Ghor province as he claimed her parents gave him the girl as a “religious offering”, officials said.
But they cited the family of the girl, believed to be in shock, as saying that she was abducted from western Herat province, bordering Iran.
“This girl does not speak, but repeats only one thing: ‘I am afraid of this man’,” said Masoom Anwari, head of the women affairs department in Ghor.
The girl is currently in a woman’s shelter in Ghor and her parents are on their way to the province to collect her, the local governor’s office said.
“Karim has been jailed and our investigation is ongoing,” said Abdul Hai Khatibi, the governor’s spokesman.
The arrest comes just days after a 14-year-old pregnant girl was burned to death in Ghor, in a case that sparked shock waves in Afghanistan.
The family of that girl, Zahra, said she was tortured and set alight by her husband’s family. But relatives of the teenager’s husband insisted her death was by self-immolation.
The incidents underscore rising incidents of child marriages in Afghanistan.
“In some regions because of insecurity and poverty the families marry off their daughters at a very early age to get rid of them,” Sima Samar, head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, told reporters this month.
Afghan civil law sets the legal age of marriage at 16 for girls, yet 15 percent of Afghan women under 50 were married before their 15th birthday and almost half were married before the age of 18, according to Save the Children.
“So many children who are married off at a young age are deprived of their right to education, safety and the ability to make choices about their future,” the international charity said this month.
“This is such a fundamental breach of a child’s basic rights.”
The latest case comes after a young woman was stoned to death in Ghor last November after being accused of adultery.
And in March last year a woman named Farkhunda was savagely beaten and set ablaze in central Kabul after being falsely accused of burning a Koran.
The mob killing triggered angry nationwide protests and drew global attention to the endemic violence facing Afghan women.
WATCH: Saturday Night Live airs Christmas special — that’s just one giant dig at the Electoral College
NBC's "Saturday Night Live" aired an opening skit that was just one giant attack on the electoral college.
A snowman introduced the segment, saying that we could look in on the holiday table conversation thanks to hacked Nest cams.
The skit featured a house in San Francisco, California, a second in Charleston, South Carolina and a third in Atlanta, Georgia.
Each dinner table debated impeachment, and the differences between President Donald Trump and his predecessor, President Barack Obama.
But then the snowman said that none of their votes matter.
"They'll debate the issues all year long, but then it all comes down to 1,000 people in Wisconsin who won't even think about the election until the morning of," the snowman said. "And that's the magic of the Electoral College."
Georgia mayor being recalled for racism resigns from office: report
Hoschton Mayor Theresa Kenerly resigned in a special city council meeting held on Saturday, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported Saturday.
"The resignation came just days after Councilman Jim Cleveland resigned saying he‘d rather leave office on his own terms than face voters in a recall election next month," the newspaper reported. "Both resignations follow an AJC investigation launched seven months ago into claims that an African American candidate for city administrator was sidetracked by Mayor Theresa Kenerly because of his race."
Nine 2020 Democrats unite to demand DNC Chair Tom Perez scrap debate rules: report
The Democratic National Committee is facing a revolt for the party's 2020 presidential candidates for its restrictive debate rules.
"Nine Democratic presidential candidates, including the party's front-runners, are urging the Democratic National Committee to toss out the current polling and fundraising rules used to determine who appears in televised debates and reopen the exchanges to better reflect the historic diversity of the current field. The candidates say the rules exclude diverse candidates in the field from participating," CBS News reported Saturday evening.