An Afghan cleric has defended his marriage to a six-year-old girl, saying she was a “religious offering” to him.
Mohammad Karim, who is believed to be in his sixties, was arrested after marrying the girl. He has told officials that he had been given the girl as a “religious offering” by her parents, Agence France-Presse reports.
However, her parents reportedly claim she was abducted without their consent from the Herat province.
He is being held by authorities in the central Ghor province, while investigations are underway.
Head of the Women Affairs Department in Ghor, Masoom Anwari, said: “This girl does not speak, but only repeats one thing- ‘I am afraid of this man’.”
The legal age for marriage in Afghanistan is 16 for women and 18 for men. However, child marriages continue to be common, particularly in rural areas.
According to Afghan Ministry of Public Health research, among women aged 25-49 in Afghanistan, 53 per cent were married before the age of 18.