Afghanistan: Practice of Baadi Prevalent in Rural Areas

The custom of trading a girl as payment for the misdeed of an elder member of her family, known as baad or baadi, dates to before Islam, when nomadic tribes traversed Afghanistan. It has only been illegal in Afghanistan since 2009 when the Elimination of Violence Against Women Act was enacted. It is still widely practiced in rural areas where it is dangerous or not feasible to seek out government institutions.  As a result, many families rely on jirgas, assemblies of tribal elders that use tribal law, which allows the exchange of girls to compensate for crimes committed by a member of the girl’s family. 

Women’s rights advocates stated that the practice has been difficult to combat both because of limited access to the legal system and because of the mixed views many individuals hold of the practice. Many elders refuse to acknowledge the suffering of the girls. Women’s advocates note that baad amounts to forced marriage and slavery and interviews with women given in baad indicate that abuse and rape are common throughout the women’s lives.

Strong public relations campaigns that explain that the practice is both illegal and un-Islamic have been successful in decreasing baad in some areas. However, advocates fear that progress made will stall as NATO troops pull out and money for public awareness programs drops off.

 

Compiled from: Rubin, Alissa. Afghanistan – “Baad” Illegal Custom of Taking Girls as Payment for Elders’ Misdeeds, Still Occurs, The New York Times, Women’s UN Report Network (16 February 2012).