Afghan opium farmers fall into debt to gangs when their crops are destroyed
The smugglers take family members as collateral for unpaid debts
Girls as young as 10 are sent abroad to become sex slaves and drug mules
By Sam Webb
PUBLISHED: 12:31, 29 January 2013 |
Opium gangs are taking the sons and daughters of Afghan farmers as collateral for unpaid debts.
A documentary exposes the fate of those who borrow from drug lords to set up cultivation of the heroin plant but are left destitute when Nato-backed forces destroy their crops.
The drug lords then take their children, including girls as young as ten, to Pakistan and Iran to sell them into the sex trade or use them as drug mules.
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The makers of Opium Brides, a film from American broadcaster PBS, obtained footage of one farmer being slowly beheaded with a penknife. He had refused to hand over his daughter to the gang.
‘It just seemed too awful to be true,’ said producer Jamie Doran, who made the film with Afghan investigative reporter Najibullah Quraishi.
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‘There was one poor farmer who couldn’t pay the traffickers back and refused to give his daughter away. And we actually have the entire film of him being beheaded with a penknife. That’s what they do if you refuse to hand over your daughters.’
The film also features an interview with a little girl, aged around six, who faces being handed over to the drug runners in exchange for her father, who was captured after he could not pay up.
She said: ‘The smugglers will take me by force and my mother can’t stop them.’
Her father’s captors sent a film of him blindfolded and in the dark. In it, the father is seen to say: ‘This is a really bad place. I beg you, give them whatever they want.’
Shocking: Producer Jamie Doran, left, and Afghan reporter Najibullah Quraishi describe their harrowing film
The pair told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about their horrific encounters and of the tragic victims at the mercy of Afghan drug lords. The mother, who can’t even look at her daughter, is also interviewed.
‘I have to give them my daughter to release my husband,’ she states, flatly.
The filmmakers believe there are many hundreds, if not thousands of girls on the run from the traffickers. The problem will get worse when Nato forces leave Afghanistan in 2014, Mr Quraishi said.
Mr Doran added: ‘I don’t know if there’s a solution because the world demands poppy cultivation for its heroin addiction.
‘Maybe the blame shouldn’t just be put on to the Afghan government. Maybe we should be looking inside ourselves a little.’