May 11, 2022

Afghanistani men who evacuated with multiple wives

In early September of 2021, AP reported that there were potentially young girls among evacuees who were forced to marry older men to escape the brutality of the Taliban regime. Well, there is a strange case that I am following closely. Well, it is about an Afghanistani who brought two women, one registered as a wife and the other as a sister. His wife, who has six children, the young woman recorded as his sister, has only one young child, but recently, the neighbors recently began noticing her belly gradually expanding. Neighbors are confused and wonder whether the man impregnated his sister, or the woman is his second wife. Recently, the neighbors began speculating that the young woman is the man's second wife. They are currently kept in one of those lily pads overseas and have been there since six months ago or more. The officials at the camp are also aware of it but do not know how to deal with it. 

I spoke with a few translators who have worked in military bases across the US, where Afghan refugees were held temporarily. They told me they noticed older men with young girls, who were often registered as their daughters but without mothers or any more senior female members. They told me that the translators noticed it, and they turned a blind eye.  See this report:

An internal document described to the Associated Press by officials familiar with it says that Afghan girls at a transit site in Abu Dhabi have come forward with allegations that they were raped by older men they were forced to marry in order to escape Afghanistan. U.S. officials at intake centers in the United Arab Emirates and in Wisconsin have identified numerous incidents in which Afghan girls have been presented to authorities as the "wives" of much older men.

One of the translators told me he decided to bring it to the attention of the Americans, but other translators discouraged him and said, let it go for now; they will have a problem when resettled. The translators shared their suspicions of polygamy cases that were not detected by the US officials but did not do anything because they could not establish claims without evidence or direct observation. On its latest update, the USCIS has added a tab on its website under "Information for Afghans" called polygamous marriages:

Polygamous Marriages

Polygamy is the religious practice or historical custom of having more than one spouse at the same time. Polygamous marriages are legal under Afghan law, but they are illegal in all states in the United States. U.S. law does not recognize polygamous marriages. Individuals should not continue to practice polygamy in the United States. Generally, we will only consider the first marriage of a polygamous marriage valid for immigration purposes. If you continue a polygamous marriage you were in before you came to the United States or begin a new polygamous marriage in the United States, we may deny your immigration application.

If you have questions about polygamous marriage and U.S. immigration law, contact your local resettlement agency. If you need to find legal services, please visit the Find Legal Services webpage.  

The translators told me that the wives were not allowed to come out of their rooms, and when they did, they were forced to cover their faces while their husbands were on the lookout. I will write more about this later. 


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