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Fight to end practice of trading girls to settle disputes in Afghanistan

Reporter: Catherine James 丨 CCTV.com

08-15-2016 09:26 BJT

In Afghanistan, a young man has protested against a tradition among Pashtun tribes, in which girls are being traded to settle conflicts. The protester has threatened a local Islamic office to show solidarity with the victims of this practice.

He is rare in Afghanistan, and perhaps in the entire world: a man prepared to die for women’s rights. Khan Wali Adel had said he would set himself on fire if Afghanistan’s highest Islamic office, the Ulema  Council, did not respond to his demand for them to publicly condemn “baad”—the practice of selling girls and women for money and trading them to settle disputes.

“If the Ulema Council issue a religious decree against baad and selling women and girls this will pave the way for the government to accept my demands,” Adel said.

For the past four months, Adel has staged a sit-in protest near Parliament House in Kabul. But as the  deadline approached and the Ulema Council remained silent, it was clear the 24-year-old schoolteacher from Paktiya province did not want to die.

On the day of his ultimatum, even firefighters were on standby to prevent his self-immolation. At the 11th hour, the Ulema Council responded.

“Every Muslim person in Afghanistan and all the world if they give their daughters in ‘baad’ this is something illegal; in Sharia law, it’s haram. If somebody thinks this is halal, there is a doubt in his being Muslim," said Mullah Mohammad Qasem Alemi, Ulema Council member.

Outside the Ulema Council, the fire engine is leaving, and Khanwali Adel is leaving a happy man after the Ulema Council agreed to his demand to issue a religious fatwa against the practice of baad. His protest has galvanized social activists and inspired those working for women’s rights.

“A man coming from that high level of sacrifice to respect women’s human rights is something totally  revolutionary in our country right now,” said Farkhunda Zahra Naderi, former MP, activist.

But with the promise of the religious fatwa, there was no one happier than Adel.

“I assure all the girls who are in the line to be given in baad and to be sold that I will be with you. Until I am alive in this year I will not put myself on fire. So I am feeling very good and very, very good for all of us to be together and reach our purpose,” Adel said.

With more demands still to be met from the government side, it remains to be seen if Adel will again use his own life as leverage in his fight.

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