Each day before the reaping, the 11-year-old girl walked between the stunted stalks of millet with a sense of mounting dread. In a normal year, the green shoots vaulted out of the ground and rose as high as 13 feet (4 meters), a wall tall enough to conceal an adult man. This time, they only reached her waist. Even the tallest plant in her family's plot barely grazed her shoulder. Zali could feel the tug of the invisible thread tying her fate to that of the land. As the world closed in around her, she knew that this time the bad harvest would mean more than just hunger.
The practice of men marrying underage girls - which has been an accepted social norm for centuries but has been linked in recent years to the spread of HIV - was recently declared illegal in Swaziland.
Hajji Rais Khan, a white bearded resident of Nangarhar’s Dur Baba district, needed only to remove his false teeth and hand over 3,000 dollars to conclude the swift purchase of a young woman for his bride.