Fairfield, Conn. (July 20, 2016) — Save the Children is urging the Afghan government to end the practice of child marriage after a 14-year-old girl was set alight last week and later died in hospital.
According to media reports, Zahra had already been married for several years and was four months pregnant when she died.
"This is a truly heartbreaking situation in which Zahra faced suffering beyond comprehension," Save the Children Afghanistan Country Director Ana Maria Locsin said.
"Zahra’s is an extreme case of what can happen when a child is forcibly married off, however we know her marriage was not unique — the practice is all too common in many parts of the country."
Afghan Civil Law sets the legal age of marriage at 16 for females, yet 15 percent of Afghan women under 50 years old were married before their 15th birthday. Almost half were married before the age of 18.
"Save the Children is urging the Afghan government to ensure girls like Zahra can stay at home with their families where they belong and where they are protected from harm," Ms Locsin said.
"This is such a fundamental breach of a child’s basic rights. Zahra and so many other 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.
"Zahra’s case must become a catalyst for change so other children won’t fall victim to a similar fate."
Early marriage in Afghanistan is also strongly linked to education outcomes. Young women without an education are more than three times as likely to be married before the age of 18 than are their counterparts who have secondary education or higher.
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