Forced marriage, poverty, and domestic violence are fuelling the exodus.
The numbers of girls and women imprisoned for running away from home is on the rise. According to the women’s affairs ministry, 88 cases were registered in the first three months of this year compared to 68 in the same period last year.
One of the victims shared: “The boy that I loved made several marriage proposals but my family didn’t agree because he was poor, and so I was then forced to run away with him,” She explained, adding that they had considered handing themselves in to the police but decided not to for fear of abuse.
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In Afghanistan, female runaways can be imprisoned under the loose category of moral crimes.
The fact that being accused of a moral crime in Afghanistan is considered something shameful, many families refuse to take their women back.
It is common, even in this day and age, that decisions about a woman’s future are taken by male family members.
In theory, customary law is above Islamic law, which it should give women the right to choose their own husband and forbids forced marriage.
But in the practise, families marry their daughters off with old men for money. Because their daughters are not happy with this, they feel forced to run away from home.
Farzana Safi, head of the ministry’s women’s rights department, said that forced marriage and poverty were some of the reasons more and more girls were running away.