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CNN'S AMANPOUR

Paying Your Debt with Your Daughter; Examining Afghan Opium Brides; Imagine a World

Aired August 29, 2013 - 15:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, I'm Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to a special edition of our program. Tonight we tackle the terrible topic of child brides around the world.

Just take a look at this picture. He's 40; she's 11 and they're married. Indeed, there are over 51 million child brides around the world. And it's not just Muslims, it happens in other religions and across cultures and regions.

Photographer Stephanie Sinclair has gone around the world investigating and documenting this phenomenon which is often a crime. I recently talked to her about the incredible stories featured in the book, "Questions without Answers: The World in Pictures by the Photographers of VII."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Stephanie Sinclair, thank you for being here.

STEPHANIE SINCLAIR, VII PHOTOGRAPHER: Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: So let's go to Yemen and let's go to this picture. It is actually startling. You see these much older people with these children. Describe what's going on here. Who are they?

SINCLAIR: These are two young girls, Tehani (ph) and Felada (ph). They're sisters-in-law in Yemen and these are their husbands. And this was during a day that the husbands had come home in Yemen from working. They were both in the military. And so they came home and they were spending time with their family. And I was able to photograph them.

AMANPOUR: I think you recorded one of them. We're just going to play some of what one of these little girls -- this little girl told you.

SINCLAIR: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They were decorating my hands with marks, but I didn't know they were going to marry me off. And my mother came and said, "Come on, my daughter." They were dressing me up and I was asking, "Where are you taking me?"

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: I mean, I think that's what's so heartbreaking about this, that they often don't know what's happening to them, and they're told that we're going to a party or we're going to a celebration. And then this happens.

Do they express how they feel about it?

SINCLAIR: Well, most of the young girls, particularly like these two girls, who are preteen, I mean, that's where you really see that they don't know what's happening to them. And the only time they really understand what's happening is on their wedding night, unfortunately.

And, you know, I think that it's just these -- this harmful traditional practice of child marriage is just so embedded in some of these cultures that the families don't protect them as they should.

AMANPOUR: And they -- as you said, they don't know anything and then here's this young, young girl. How old is she?

SINCLAIR: This is a young girl named Azia (ph). And she's 14 here. She already has two children in this photograph.

AMANPOUR: Two children. Well, here's the newborn.

SINCLAIR: Yes. And --

AMANPOUR: And there you have in the corner there, yes.

SINCLAIR: And she was still actually, you know, was bleeding still from her birth and the child, and she didn't really know what was happening to her body. And you know, it just shows that there wasn't -- there wasn't a lot of education out in these villages to tell them what was happening and what to expect.

AMANPOUR: When you went to do this session, I mean, they must have known that, you know, you didn't approve of it or this was something that wasn't right.

Was there a sense that they got it, that this wasn't right, their parents or the kids?

SINCLAIR: Absolutely. I think -- I mean, this whole project, I've been working on this for about nine years now. And this whole project was done with the help of the people from these communities. So all the access I got to each of the families was through the people who wanted this to stop, because they could see the harmful repercussions.

AMANPOUR: That's kind of interesting, because usually you might find yourself sort of blocked out from the community. I mean, so did -- I mean, did the men know? Did the parents know? Did -- how did -- how did that work? How did they give you permission to do it?

SINCLAIR: I was very straightforward. I mean, you know, I went to them and I told them what I'd been working on. I've shown them pictures that I had -- I'd made previously on the topic. And I was just very honest with them, that, you know, we're working together, hopefully, to bring solutions and to help their communities prosper.

At the same time, we also have serious issues in our country. And I was -- you know, I made sure to point that out, you know, for them, we have kids who get pregnant at 13 and aren't married. That's even worse.

AMANPOUR: You mean here in the United States --

(CROSSTALK)

SINCLAIR: Here in the United States, exactly. So they think that that's even worse, because there's nobody to protect them. So you know, I was very candid with some of the issues we have as well.

AMANPOUR: And then this is an amazing picture, this young girl. She actually got a divorce. I mean, look how young she is. Tell me about her, how old, how she managed to get rid of this man.

SINCLAIR: This is Nujood Ali, and she was married when she was 10 years old. And this is just a shocking story, because she went, a couple months after she was married, she went to the court and found a lawyer, a woman named Shada Nasser, and asked -- and asked her to help her get a divorce, and she was granted.

AMANPOUR: How rare is that? I never, ever heard of something like that.

SINCLAIR: Absolutely. It's definitely, definitely rare and it basically, I mean, Nujood became kind of a international symbol of child marriage, because she was -- she was able to do this and found it within herself. And I think she's inspired a lot of other girls, and also other organizations to support these girls, to have a stronger voice.

AMANPOUR: Well, this is Afghanistan. I mean, again, you know, you can hardly believe this is real, this ancient man with this child that barely looks like she's 5. How old is this girl?

SINCLAIR: She's 11.

AMANPOUR: Eleven years old?

SINCLAIR: Yes.

AMANPOUR: And what's expected to happen? Are they meant to consummate the union? Is the girl a slave in the house until she becomes - - comes of age, or what?

SINCLAIR: Yes, on both accounts. I mean, you know, what I was told when I was there is that people, that the girls would -- they would wait till puberty and they wouldn't consummate the marriages. But the women brought me aside and said, you know, they will. Once the girls are their property, there's nothing they can do.

AMANPOUR: They're forced --

SINCLAIR: They're forced. And the bigger tragedy, I mean, not that that's not a huge tragedy, but the biggest tragedy is that this young girl, she wanted to -- she was still in school. And this is like rural Afghanistan, where we've been pushing so hard and people want education for these young girls.

And this was in a very rural area. So something good was happening. And then she was pulled out of school as soon as she was married -- I mean, as soon as she was engaged, not even married.

AMANPOUR: But here, this is really interesting, I think, because there are some brave people in Afghanistan who simply won't tolerate this. And this was the -- one of the police commanders, a rare female police commander. Tell me about this story, because she's obviously come after this guy.

SINCLAIR: Yes. This is Malalai Kakar. She was a very, very special woman. And she knew the project I was working on, and called me when she got this case. I was actually in Kandahar here, and this young girl -- her name was Jamila, and she had been stabbed several times by her husband and just for trying to go visit her mother without his permission.

AMANPOUR: That's it?

SINCLAIR: That's it. That's all she did. And --

AMANPOUR: And this being the husband?

SINCLAIR: And that's the husband. And so I actually sat down -- I was sitting there, talking to them, and I asked Malalai, I said, "What are we going -- what's going to happen to this man?" And she just kind of laughed and went, "Nothing. Men are kings here."

AMANPOUR: Malalai said that?

SINCLAIR: Yes. And she couldn't really do anything. But --

AMANPOUR: Not even arrest him?

SINCLAIR: She couldn't even arrest him. But she was very --

AMANPOUR: With blood all over the scene of the crime?

SINCLAIR: Yes. And he also stabbed her grandmother. But she was happy to just have him out there. You can see by the way she's holding him that she's like at least you can photograph him and show everyone what's happening.

AMANPOUR: But here also, this touched me very, very deeply. This young girl has obviously been rescued.

SINCLAIR: Yes. This is at a shelter in Afghanistan. And this was actually one of the moments where I was like, "I'm going to work on this project for the -- as long as it takes." This is a young girl; her name's Meshgon (ph), and she was married at 11 years old. Her father was a drug addict and sold her for heroin. And she --

AMANPOUR: Her father sold her to get his fix?

SINCLAIR: Yes. And so she was married and obviously treated very terribly and ended up running away. And she ended up at this shelter in Haraq (ph). And I was just talking to her -- and these girls just wanted to share their stories.

And she said to me, "In my whole life, I have never felt loved." And I was just like -- I couldn't even imagine what that would be like. She was so beautiful and so sweet. And they actually, you know, there still -- there needs -- more solutions need to come, because they ended up having to send her back to her father.

AMANPOUR: And, of course, it's not just in the Muslim world that this happens. You went to India. These are Hindus.

SINCLAIR: Yes.

AMANPOUR: What is happening to this little girl?

SINCLAIR: This is a really sweet young girl named Rajni. She was 5 years old. And they had a marriage in the middle of the night --

AMANPOUR: Literally under cover of night?

SINCLAIR: Literally at 4 o'clock in the morning, actually. And her two older sisters were married to two other boys. The three siblings marrying three --

AMANPOUR: And for what reason? Is it tradition? Is it for money? Is it to get rid of the girls? What is it?

SINCLAIR: It's for tradition. It's -- often you see these group marriages because the girl -- the families can't afford to have three weddings, just like here. Weddings are so, you know, take all the expenses people have.

AMANPOUR: And here's the wedding.

SINCLAIR: Yes. And so -- and it's very, you know, for them, even though this is at night by a fire, it's still a lot of, you know, expenses --

AMANPOUR: For the clothes. But look, it's not -- this is -- this is a small boy as well. It's not like one of those old men in Afghanistan.

SINCLAIR: No. And that's one of the main things I wanted to cover in India and Nepal, was that some of the times the boys are also young, too. And often they're victims just as much of this harmful traditional practice.

AMANPOUR: And then finally, I mean, of all these wonderful pictures of yours that we've selected, we selected some from Ethiopia because, again, this just looks like an abduction. This girl is wrapped up, put on a mule and taken away in the desert. Is that what you found there?

SINCLAIR: Yes. And this case was interesting because this girl actually kind of accepted her fate. And she said, you know, she was -- she was excited about being married. She was also 14. But at the same time, she also didn't know what that totally entailed. And so they did. They wrapped her up and they took her away by mule.

And I asked the groomsmen in this wedding, I said, "Why do you cover her face like that?"

And they said, "Just in case she wants to run away, she won't be able to find her way home."

AMANPOUR: Wow. What do you hope to achieve with this reportage?

SINCLAIR: I think it's matter of just -- of showing them that they're -- if these girls aren't educated, if they're taken out of the population and just forced to work at home, that they -- their communities suffer as a whole.

AMANPOUR: And of course here, so much of what happens, the rapes, the abuse, I mean, these are crimes. It goes beyond culture.

SINCLAIR: It is. But at the same time, I want to point out that this is an issue of more than 50 countries around the world. And even in our own country, we have had issues of it as well, and still do. And so nobody's really exempt from it. And so it's really, it's a harmful traditional practice that is slowly changing. We just want to have it change even faster.

AMANPOUR: Stephanie Sinclair, thank you very much for joining me.

SINCLAIR: Thank you. Thank you for having me. Indeed, there are over 51 million child brides around the world. And it's not just Muslims, it happens in other religions and across cultures and regions.

Photographer Stephanie Sinclair has gone around the world investigating and documenting this phenomenon which is often a crime. I recently talked to her about the incredible stories featured in the book, "Questions without Answers: The World in Pictures by the Photographers of VII."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Stephanie Sinclair, thank you for being here.

STEPHANIE SINCLAIR, VII PHOTOGRAPHER: Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: So let's go to Yemen and let's go to this picture. It is actually startling. You see these much older people with these children. Describe what's going on here. Who are they?

SINCLAIR: These are two young girls, Tehani (ph) and Felada (ph). They're sisters-in-law in Yemen and these are their husbands. And this was during a day that the husbands had come home in Yemen from working. They were both in the military. And so they came home and they were spending time with their family. And I was able to photograph them.

AMANPOUR: I think you recorded one of them. We're just going to play some of what one of these little girls -- this little girl told you.

SINCLAIR: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They were decorating my hands with marks, but I didn't know they were going to marry me off. And my mother came and said, "Come on, my daughter." They were dressing me up and I was asking, "Where are you taking me?"

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: I mean, I think that's what's so heartbreaking about this, that they often don't know what's happening to them, and they're told that we're going to a party or we're going to a celebration. And then this happens.

Do they express how they feel about it?

SINCLAIR: Well, most of the young girls, particularly like these two girls, who are preteen, I mean, that's where you really see that they don't know what's happening to them. And the only time they really understand what's happening is on their wedding night, unfortunately.

And, you know, I think that it's just these -- this harmful traditional practice of child marriage is just so embedded in some of these cultures that the families don't protect them as they should.

AMANPOUR: And they -- as you said, they don't know anything and then here's this young, young girl. How old is she?

SINCLAIR: This is a young girl named Azia (ph). And she's 14 here. She already has two children in this photograph.

AMANPOUR: Two children. Well, here's the newborn.

SINCLAIR: Yes. And --

AMANPOUR: And there you have in the corner there, yes.

SINCLAIR: And she was still actually, you know, was bleeding still from her birth and the child, and she didn't really know what was happening to her body. And you know, it just shows that there wasn't -- there wasn't a lot of education out in these villages to tell them what was happening and what to expect.

AMANPOUR: When you went to do this session, I mean, they must have known that, you know, you didn't approve of it or this was something that wasn't right.

Was there a sense that they got it, that this wasn't right, their parents or the kids?

SINCLAIR: Absolutely. I think -- I mean, this whole project, I've been working on this for about nine years now. And this whole project was done with the help of the people from these communities. So all the access I got to each of the families was through the people who wanted this to stop, because they could see the harmful repercussions.

AMANPOUR: That's kind of interesting, because usually you might find yourself sort of blocked out from the community. I mean, so did -- I mean, did the men know? Did the parents know? Did -- how did -- how did that work? How did they give you permission to do it?

SINCLAIR: I was very straightforward. I mean, you know, I went to them and I told them what I'd been working on. I've shown them pictures that I had -- I'd made previously on the topic. And I was just very honest with them, that, you know, we're working together, hopefully, to bring solutions and to help their communities prosper.

At the same time, we also have serious issues in our country. And I was -- you know, I made sure to point that out, you know, for them, we have kids who get pregnant at 13 and aren't married. That's even worse.

AMANPOUR: You mean here in the United States --

(CROSSTALK)

SINCLAIR: Here in the United States, exactly. So they think that that's even worse, because there's nobody to protect them. So you know, I was very candid with some of the issues we have as well.

AMANPOUR: And then this is an amazing picture, this young girl. She actually got a divorce. I mean, look how young she is. Tell me about her, how old, how she managed to get rid of this man.

SINCLAIR: This is Nujood Ali, and she was married when she was 10 years old. And this is just a shocking story, because she went, a couple months after she was married, she went to the court and found a lawyer, a woman named Shada Nasser, and asked -- and asked her to help her get a divorce, and she was granted.

AMANPOUR: How rare is that? I never, ever heard of something like that.

SINCLAIR: Absolutely. It's definitely, definitely rare and it basically, I mean, Nujood became kind of a international symbol of child marriage, because she was -- she was able to do this and found it within herself. And I think she's inspired a lot of other girls, and also other organizations to support these girls, to have a stronger voice.

AMANPOUR: Well, this is Afghanistan. I mean, again, you know, you can hardly believe this is real, this ancient man with this child that barely looks like she's 5. How old is this girl?

SINCLAIR: She's 11.

AMANPOUR: Eleven years old?

SINCLAIR: Yes.

AMANPOUR: And what's expected to happen? Are they meant to consummate the union? Is the girl a slave in the house until she becomes - - comes of age, or what?

SINCLAIR: Yes, on both accounts. I mean, you know, what I was told when I was there is that people, that the girls would -- they would wait till puberty and they wouldn't consummate the marriages. But the women brought me aside and said, you know, they will. Once the girls are their property, there's nothing they can do.

AMANPOUR: They're forced --

SINCLAIR: They're forced. And the bigger tragedy, I mean, not that that's not a huge tragedy, but the biggest tragedy is that this young girl, she wanted to -- she was still in school. And this is like rural Afghanistan, where we've been pushing so hard and people want education for these young girls.

And this was in a very rural area. So something good was happening. And then she was pulled out of school as soon as she was married -- I mean, as soon as she was engaged, not even married.

AMANPOUR: But here, this is really interesting, I think, because there are some brave people in Afghanistan who simply won't tolerate this. And this was the -- one of the police commanders, a rare female police commander. Tell me about this story, because she's obviously come after this guy.

SINCLAIR: Yes. This is Malalai Kakar. She was a very, very special woman. And she knew the project I was working on, and called me when she got this case. I was actually in Kandahar here, and this young girl -- her name was Jamila, and she had been stabbed several times by her husband and just for trying to go visit her mother without his permission.

AMANPOUR: That's it?

SINCLAIR: That's it. That's all she did. And --

AMANPOUR: And this being the husband?

SINCLAIR: And that's the husband. And so I actually sat down -- I was sitting there, talking to them, and I asked Malalai, I said, "What are we going -- what's going to happen to this man?" And she just kind of laughed and went, "Nothing. Men are kings here."

AMANPOUR: Malalai said that?

SINCLAIR: Yes. And she couldn't really do anything. But --

AMANPOUR: Not even arrest him?

SINCLAIR: She couldn't even arrest him. But she was very --

AMANPOUR: With blood all over the scene of the crime?

SINCLAIR: Yes. And he also stabbed her grandmother. But she was happy to just have him out there. You can see by the way she's holding him that she's like at least you can photograph him and show everyone what's happening.

AMANPOUR: But here also, this touched me very, very deeply. This young girl has obviously been rescued.

SINCLAIR: Yes. This is at a shelter in Afghanistan. And this was actually one of the moments where I was like, "I'm going to work on this project for the -- as long as it takes." This is a young girl; her name's Meshgon (ph), and she was married at 11 years old. Her father was a drug addict and sold her for heroin. And she --

AMANPOUR: Her father sold her to get his fix?

SINCLAIR: Yes. And so she was married and obviously treated very terribly and ended up running away. And she ended up at this shelter in Haraq (ph) . And I was just talking to her -- and these girls just wanted to share their stories.

And she said to me, "In my whole life, I have never felt loved." And I was just like -- I couldn't even imagine what that would be like. She was so beautiful and so sweet. And they actually, you know, there still -- there needs -- more solutions need to come, because they ended up having to send her back to her father.

AMANPOUR: And, of course, it's not just in the Muslim world that this happens. You went to India. These are Hindus.

SINCLAIR: Yes.

AMANPOUR: What is happening to this little girl?

SINCLAIR: This is a really sweet young girl named Rajni. She was 5 years old. And they had a marriage in the middle of the night --

AMANPOUR: Literally under cover of night?

SINCLAIR: Literally at 4 o'clock in the morning, actually. And her two older sisters were married to two other boys. The three siblings marrying three --

AMANPOUR: And for what reason? Is it tradition? Is it for money? Is it to get rid of the girls? What is it?

SINCLAIR: It's for tradition. It's -- often you see these group marriages because the girl -- the families can't afford to have three weddings, just like here. Weddings are so, you know, take all the expenses people have.

AMANPOUR: And here's the wedding.

SINCLAIR: Yes. And so -- and it's very, you know, for them, even though this is at night by a fire, it's still a lot of, you know, expenses --

AMANPOUR: For the clothes. But look, it's not -- this is -- this is a small boy as well. It's not like one of those old men in Afghanistan.

SINCLAIR: No. And that's one of the main things I wanted to cover in India and Nepal, was that some of the times the boys are also young, too. And often they're victims just as much of this harmful traditional practice.

AMANPOUR: And then finally, I mean, of all these wonderful pictures of yours that we've selected, we selected some from Ethiopia because, again, this just looks like an abduction. This girl is wrapped up, put on a mule and taken away in the desert. Is that what you found there?

SINCLAIR: Yes. And this case was interesting because this girl actually kind of accepted her fate. And she said, you know, she was -- she was excited about being married. She was also 14. But at the same time, she also didn't know what that totally entailed. And so they did. They wrapped her up and they took her away by mule.

And I asked the groomsmen in this wedding, I said, "Why do you cover her face like that?"

And they said, "Just in case she wants to run away, she won't be able to find her way home."

AMANPOUR: Wow. What do you hope to achieve with this reportage?

SINCLAIR: I think it's matter of just -- of showing them that they're -- if these girls aren't educated, if they're taken out of the population and just forced to work at home, that they -- their communities suffer as a whole.

AMANPOUR: And of course here, so much of what happens, the rapes, the abuse, I mean, these are crimes. It goes beyond culture.

SINCLAIR: It is. But at the same time, I want to point out that this is an issue of more than 50 countries around the world. And even in our own country, we have had issues of it as well, and still do. And so nobody's really exempt from it. And so it's really, it's a harmful traditional practice that is slowly changing. We just want to have it change even faster.

AMANPOUR: Stephanie Sinclair, thank you very much for joining me.

SINCLAIR: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: After a break, in one corner of the world, Afghanistan, the plight of child brides takes on an even darker dimension. When families are forced to ransom their young daughters to appease the drug traffickers. Opium brides, when we return.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Now imagine having to use your daughter to pay back a debt. That's what's happening right now in Afghanistan. It's a horrifying reality in the ruthless and ongoing opium trade that's dominated the country for decades.

As 90 percent of the world's opium, the raw source of heroin, comes from Afghanistan, growing poppy there is a lucrative job and farmers often have to borrow cash from drug traffickers to start growing their own.

But as the government cracks down and destroys illegal crops, some farmers don't have the means to pay back their debt. What happens next is almost unimaginable and it's tragically documented in the award-winning frontline film, "Opium Brides." Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): The smugglers will take me by force and my mother can't stop them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): This is a really bad place. I beg you. Whatever they want, give it to them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): I have to give my daughter to release my husband.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): We have heard they use them for sex.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): They're way more dangerous and powerful than the Taliban. My son and daughter are their prisoners.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): You must bring $20,000 with you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): I have to kill myself. What else can I do?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: And that is just a trailer from the powerful film that's been made by investigative reporter Najibullah Quraishi and producer Jamie Doran, and they join me both now.

Welcome, thanks for being here.

Najibullah, let me ask you first, these are your country people. You're talking to these women, to these girls, both of the girls who we showed in that trailer, both of them were given away, were taken away by the drug dealers.

What happened to them?

NAJIBULLAH QURAISHI, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, "OPIUM BRIDES": So basically, when they've taken them, they take to other countries, like Pakistan, Iran, and then they're using them for several things, like for sex slavery, drug transporting, things like that.

AMANPOUR: They become drug mules? And sex slaves?

QURAISHI: (Inaudible).

AMANPOUR: And it's -- and they're just trafficked all over the place?

QURAISHI: It's kind of what they were calling like a big mafia, international mafia. And they just been shifting from Afghanistan to big traffickers, to Iran, to Pakistan.

AMANPOUR: Jamie, how did you zero in on this story? And how difficult was it to get these girls and their -- and their parents and the drug traffickers to open up?

JAMIE DORAN, PRODUCER, "OPIUM BRIDES": We were actually working on another story at the time, "Dancing Boys of Afghanistan," and at that time we were approached by various people.

We were told the story of a fellow called Razim Khan (ph). We call him Razim Khan (ph) in the film. And it just seemed too awful to be true. But as we discovered, I mean, there are some images we couldn't even show in the film.

AMANPOUR: Like what?

DORAN: One farmer, 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 his -- him being beheaded with a penknife. And that's what they do if you refuse to hand over your daughters.

AMANPOUR: Is there anything the government can do, Najibullah? I mean, is there anything that -- the government knows this stuff is going on and they've promised to crack down.

QURAISHI: Of course, government knows that. And this is kind of system which is going on from last years and years and years, that traffickers approach the farmers. They're giving some advance money to grow poppies. And they know everything.

But by destroying their crops, basically government is destroying their families, their life. And the -- I don't think -- I cannot say if there is a solution because our job is to just expose and hope the government, Afghan government find a solution or the policymakers find some solution for it.

DORAN: I don't know if there's a solution because the world demands poppy cultivation for its heroin addiction. So you know, maybe the blame shouldn't just be put onto the Afghan government. Maybe we should be looking inside ourselves a little more.

AMANPOUR: And it really has been a huge question, a huge issue, what to do about this. So for -- ever since the U.S. and the West intervened, because you're absolutely right, it is their primary -- one of their primary cash crops.

QURAISHI: Yes.

AMANPOUR: And what to make of this drug, like maybe make it into medicinal purposes or uses, of course, that hasn't really happened. But you found also some government officials who wouldn't admit to you on camera what they knew, but off camera they did.

What did they say about this?

QURAISHI: They all know, even the ministers in Kabul, everyone knows what's going on on those territories. They all know. The problem is, those areas are all belong to the Taliban. And they couldn't go there. Even NATO. They go for an hour or two and they couldn't stay there for longer. And the officials, they all know that things -- I mean, all the time, it's going on.

DORAN: I think there's something important, if you don't mind me interjecting it, slightly. The role of NATO and the United Nations is fascinating in this situation because -- and it doesn't come out solidly enough, sadly, in the reports that come out, but the U.N. and NATO ISAF will tell you it's not their responsibility nor do they advocate the destruction, the eradication of the poppy.

But they supply the protection for the police to actually do it. So they're saying on one hand, we have nothing to do with this. But the Afghan police couldn't do it without NATO support.

AMANPOUR: And with the NATO support, very shortly going to be withdrawn, do you think that'll make any difference?

QURAISHI: I think it will go to worse, really. So if by being -- NATO is in Afghanistan; nothing happened the last over 10 years. What will happen after when they are leaving their troops out? So it's going to be worse.

And on the other hand, I interviewed one caliph (ph). We didn't include this one, but our international version is -- has that interview. I asked the caliph (ph) why you allow traffickers to take the girls from here? He said, this is not my job. This is their job. But once we against the NATO and the government, we are together. But otherwise, we have separate businesses.

DORAN: You have to catch that the Taliban want the money. They charge a fee to the traffickers, $250-$300 million a year that Taliban are making, even when we were there in Afghanistan in Kabul at one point. A firefight right beside where we were, that lasted for 23 hours. And you know that the Taliban, a lot of the weaponry that were using was financed through the poppy.

AMANPOUR: And just beyond this, I mean, look, I've covered this a lot, too, the women, the children at issue, you know, some 50 percent of Afghan girls get married as girls. They -- the U.N. calls that 18, but it's often much, much younger. Any change in that demographic, do you think, likely?

QURAISHI: Unfortunately not. You're saying 50 percent, but I am agreeing with 70 percent.

AMANPOUR: You think 70 percent?

QURAISHI: Seventy percent of girls, they get married even at the age of 10, 12 or 15 or -- and unfortunately, it's going to be increased, the number.

AMANPOUR: Well, thank you so much for exposing it; thank you so much for joining me today, Najibullah Quraishi and Jamie Doran.

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AMANPOUR: And a measure of how tough life still is for girls. When we return, we'll go back to Afghanistan where boys, unfortunately, are valued more than girls and parents sometimes have to pass their daughters off as their sons.

For one woman, that masq has become a way of life and a way to be counted. Her remarkable story when we come back.

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AMANPOUR: And now imagine a world where women have to disguise themselves as men just to be taken seriously as people. This is the world of Bibi Hokmina, a politician from the Khost province of Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan.

I recently met her when she came to New York to speak at a conference about women's rights in Afghanistan and around the world.

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AMANPOUR (voice-over): Bibi Hokmina looks like a man, dresses like a man and has been elected to the local council in her rural province, which is dominated by men.

But Bibi Hokmina is a woman.

"My heart has become the heart of a man," she told me. "Just as a man cannot put on the dress of a woman, I cannot. It would be very shameful for me. I'm considered a man now."

Hokmina told me that she's lived as a boy since childhood. Her father told her that he needed a boy to fight alongside him after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.

Indeed, dressing young girls as boys is quite common all over Afghanistan. Some families do it for social prestige and necessity, since boys are valued more than girls. And others do it for freedom, particularly in areas where women need male escorts to run basic errands, like going to the market.

"Our women have been deprived from their basic rights, even in the elections," she told me, "providing us limited seats as compared to men. We have been ignored. You people have been given your rights. Our rights have been deprived."

Ultimately, though, Hokmina hopes for a time where women in Afghanistan can just be women. But as the United States prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan, Hokmina says that it must make sure that women don't again pay the price.

"The only solution," she tells me, "is to get Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Nations all together to bring the Taliban to the table and say to them, `Listen, you cannot do as you've done before. You must follow the law. And if you do not, you will be brought to justice.' Otherwise," says Hokmina, "the cycle of war will just start all over again."

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AMANPOUR: And that is it for tonight's program. Thanks for watching and goodbye from New York.

END