Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Young and In Love?

This is 3-year-old Sunam in her bridal gown and with her 7-year-old fiance/cousin Nieem.

I began working on this story about engagements when a friend told me about another woman, 22 years old, who has been trying for the past eight years to end her engagement. She has been beaten by her family, her fiance and his father, who are trying to force her to marry him; and the fiance has threatened to kill her if she leaves him.

At the same time, I heard about a female journalist who was killed, possibly for family reasons and an engagement. I chased this story at her workplace, but to no avail. I could not figure out why she was killed or by whom.

So as I was leaving the journalist's office, I asked her female colleagues if they knew of anyone who was engaged at a very young age -- a good finisher for the story -- and one woman told us of her neighbors who engaged their 3-year-old daughter with her young cousin. I got their address and went to their home, where the ladies of the home were wonderfully warm and welcoming, as Afghans are. Sunam and Nieem became the main focus of my story.