Face to Face with Afghanistan’s Opium Brides

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January 3, 2012
Opium Brides, an inside look at the unexpected collateral damage of the counternarcotics effort in Afghanistan, airs tonight on FRONTLINE. Check your local listings or watch it online.

From investigating the sexual abuse of young boys to embedding with a group of insurgents allied with Al Qaeda, veteran Afghan reporter Najibullah Quraishi takes FRONTLINE cameras where few Western journalists can go.

Today Quraishi spoke with The World‘s Marco Werman about his latest journey — airing on FRONTLINE tonight — deep into remote Afghan countryside to investigate a horrifying sex trade: young girls kidnapped or traded to smugglers to meet the debts of impoverished opium farmers whose crops have been destroyed by the government.

Quraishi met several girls who were taken from their families, an existing problem that he says has increased as a result of poppy eradication programs. The girls “are only nine, 10, 11 [or] 12 and used for manufacturing heroin, or immediately married to traffickers or sold in other countries, like Iran.”

The smugglers are “very powerful and stronger than the Taliban and the government,” Quraishi tells Werman.

Listen to the interview below for more about what Quraishi sees as the prospects for helping the young girls, and tune in to Opium Brides tonight for the full story of how young girls, and even boys, are paying the price for counternarcotics policy in Afghanistan.

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