The media respects certain unwritten laws about publishing photos of torture, corpses, severed limbs and other horrors. Yet a few weeks ago, CNN ran a segment in prime time that depicted such cruelty I had to turn it off.

The image remains fresh, reappearing whenever I close my eyes. The anguish of the cameraperson must have been unspeakable. How could the crew witness/document this without jumping in to halt it?

The place: Afghanistan, where the father of six was forced to sell a daughter to a middle-aged man for $2,000, in order to feed his other children.

The girl was about 12. These sales usually happen soon after puberty, suggesting the girls’ duties will exceed housekeeping.

This is slavery compounded by child abuse, no more, no less: Selling a human being — a child — into servitude, sexual and otherwise, makes me wonder how Americans muster energy to tear down statues when the real thing still exists.

The worst was zooming in on the girl’s face, her eyes, as her father handed her over to the gray-bearded man. A tearless terror. Then the camera focused on her younger sister. Would she be next, when the $2,000 ran out?

How could this be happening? How could a prominent cable network film the segment without intervening? The purpose, of course, was to make the world aware, promoting action.

Doubtful. Because save-the-children organizations do not have the authority to render this practice illegal, with significant punishment. They cannot feed all the families that resort to this practice that happens elsewhere, too.

I am prone to — and criticized for — simplistic solutions. Example: After witnessing the $2,000 transaction, I thought first of Elon Musk and Richard Branson’s “space tourism” where, for about $200,000, a passenger gets a 10-minute weightless joy ride.

Do the math: That fare would buy 100 Afghan pre-teen girls.

This isn’t space exploration — not a mission to find a habitable planet for when we destroy this one, either. No, it’s just the ultimate amusement park ride.

Musing over the CNN segment, I realized what disturbed me most was the barbarism that still exists, in plain sight, in our seemingly civilized world. That led me to a closer-to-home atrocity.

Just when life was creeping back to normal — OK, “new” normal — another COVID-19 variant appears. Once again, talking heads led by Dr. Fauci dominate newscasts. All they can say, so far, is get vaccinated, follow up with a booster. And people still refuse. Their reasons are sounding weaker and weaker after several prominent anti-vaxxers have sickened or died. “My body, my decision,” they chant.

Only 60 percent of the U.S. population is vaccinated; 11 percent are vaccinated with a booster. Deaths are 14 percent higher among unvaccinated, according to CNN statistics.

God forbid if this new variant proves to be an “escape from immunity.” Then a new vaccine will be developed and the controversy renewed.

Here’s an idea for the agencies that produce pro-vaccine ads: Track down every public figure who has railed against vaccines, then become sickened and/or died. Put together a montage, like the anti-smoking ones. Or quarantine hold-outs, with stiff fines for non-compliance.

Simplistic, as usual. So was the wheel, the zipper. Simplistic, as in petitioning Musk and Branson to abandon their toys and feed families, so fathers won’t have to sell daughters into human bondage.

Got a better idea? Shout it out.

Contact Deb Salomon at

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(1) comment

Barbara Misiaszek

Fortunately that little girl was rescued and is now safe. Your point, however, is well taken.

John Misiaszek

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