A Perfect Symbol for the UN International Day of the Girl

By: Wendy L. 

I wasn’t sure if I could stand to read the entire article about Sahar Gul, a 13-year-old Afghan child bride. Beatings, horrific abuse, and starvation by Sahar’s 30-year-old husband and his family are described by New York Times reporter Graham Bowley.

According to “Wed and Tortured at 13, Afghan Girl Finds Rare Justice,” after about six months of marriage, her uncle found his niece nearly lifeless, tied up in a windowless cellar. Unlike most child brides, who remain invisible, treated like slaves, and have no legal justice, Sahar is now free and her in-laws have been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Thanks to a women’s shelter in Kabul, Sahar is reportedly regaining her physical and emotional health.

Recovering from this unimaginable nightmare is remarkable. What is even more remarkable is that Sahar’s courage extends to society as a whole. She declares her ambition:

“I want to become a politician and stop other women suffering the same.”

Sahar already imagines herself smack in the center of the arena where laws are made. Not silenced or stuck on the sidelines. She recognizes the importance of creating policies that affect everyone. She seems to know how essential it is for women to participate fully and equally with men, especially on fundamental human rights and legal protections.

It’s ironic that in many young democracies around the world, women are gaining parity with male lawmakers, yet here in America, men still make up 80 percent at every level of government from city councils to Congress. To have a truly diverse and representative democracy, we need more girls in the U.S. to think like Sahar!

Note: One in seven girls worldwide are married off before age 16. Want to get involved? Check out Child Marriage: Tragic Tradition

Attend or host event Volunteer