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Ex-poppy farmers pay debt with daughters October 2, 2005 - The Statesman
Afghan farmers prevented from growing opium poppies under a British-led eradication programme have been forced to hand over their daughters to drug-traffickers to settle their debts, according to reports from Afghanistan.
The claim is the latest in a series to dog the British effort to curb Afghanistan's opium industry. Opium dominates Afghanistan's economy. It accounts for 60 per cent of the country’s GDP. Critics say that Afghanistan is turning into a narco-state under the noses of Nato peacekeeping forces, and of the Western governments involved in reconstruction.
The latest claims come from Nangahar province, which has been held up by the British, put in charge of the fight against opium in Afghanistan, as their biggest success story. Opium cultivation fell by 96 per cent there this year, part of a 21 per cent fall nationwide.
But farmers are now coming forward to say that the forced loss of their poppy crop has left them unable to repay debts to drug traffickers who lent them money to buy the seeds. In desperation, they have had to turn to a traditional Afghan practice in which a family can pay off its debt by handing over a daughter to a relative of the creditor. Usually, there is a marriage ceremony for the sake of propriety - but the woman is treated as property.