Young girls are NOT brides

Young Girls are NOT Brides - incredible opinions
Image source: www.atlantic.com
Imagine, one day your daughter's best friend does not show up at school and you find out that she is being forced into a marriage at a tender age of 14. What will you do?

Well, you'll be surprised to know that someone's friend is forced into such marriage every 2 seconds in the world, if not your daughter's. 

CHILD MARRIAGE - A global problem too long ignored

A marriage is considered as a "child marriage" if it takes place before the age of 18. This practice is more common in girls than boys. A practice which robs the girl of an opportunity to get education, a better health and a choice of whom and when to marry.

The alarming statistics from UN (United Nations) show that around 39,000 young girls are married every day before the age of 18. By the end of the year 2020, more than 140 million girls will become child brides, out of those 50 million will be under the age of 15.

1 in 3 girls in the developing countries are married before they reach the age of 18 and 1 in 9 girls are married before hitting the age of 15. There are almost 400 million women in the world aged 20-49 who were married before the age of 18.

While countries with the highest prevalence of child marriages are concentrated in Western and Sub-Saharan Africa, due to increase in population size, the most number of child brides reside in South Asia.

Child marriage is the 'socially licensed sexual abuse and exploitation of a child'.
Forum on the Marriage and the Rights of Women and Girls

child marriage statistics-unicef-incredible-opinions
image source: www.unicef.org

REASONS OF CHILD MARRIAGE

When young girls are forced into early marriage, it is their time to enjoy their childhood and get the basic education. Here are the basic reasons of child marriage across the world:
  • Poverty: More than half of the girls in the poorest families of the developing world are married as children. Marriage is seen as their security option when the poverty is acute. The parents also believe that marrying off their daughter early will also leave them one less person to feed in the family. Moreover, if the girl is very young and uneducated, they end up paying less dowry for her. 
  • Genetic: Most of the early marriages happen in some parts of the world because they have been happening in their families from generations. It is a part of their culture and tradition. In some communities, a girl is considered a woman as soon as she has her first periods. She is then forced into another phase of womanhood by becoming someone's wife and then mother. In some cultures, a young girl is married presuming she is a virgin which is a big credit for her family's honour, robbing of her own dignity and honour.
  • Inequality: Gender inequality is another major reason for child marriages. Most of the families involved in child marriages prefer boy child to their girl child. They prefer to spend money and resources on the upbringing of their boys while girls are considered just an economic burden. They try to get rid of them by marrying them off early so that this economic burden can be further shifted to her husband. Most of the time, girls don't have a say in this because she is not the decision maker in the family. It is the father, the male member, who takes all the decisions.
  • Insecurity: Another reason for child marriage is girl's insecurity. In order to prevent girls from being physically and sexually harassed or assaulted in the vulnerable neighbourhood, parents tend to marry them off as soon as possible so that they can secure their married life irrespective of their age. They tend to think that it is in her best interest. Sometimes, a girl also thinks that marriage is the only way to escape the challenges of her current life and she agrees to get married at a young age.
  • Inadequate laws: It is not true that there are no laws against child marriages. The laws are just not enforced properly. In India, the laws against child marriages have been placed since 1929 but India has the most number of child brides in the world due to its population. About 47% of the girls in India are married before their 18th birthday.

EFFECTS OF CHILD MARRIAGE

Child marriage is a fundamental violation of human rights. It puts the child bride under certain risks and those risks involve her physical health as well as psychological well-being. 
  • Poverty: Child marriage means end of the childhood, forcing the child into a matured life which is full of violence, deprived of education and her economic growth. The girl cannot contribute towards her own and her family's economic development. She is more likely to be poor and remains poverty stricken all her life.
  • Poor health: Child brides face high risk of injury or death. The girls who give birth before the age of 15 are 5 times more likely to die in their childbirth than the girls in their 20s. Also, their children are less likely to live beyond their 1st birthday. Child brides also face more risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases because their husbands are generally old and they have more sexual experience. Girls between the age of 15 to 19 are 2 to 6 times more likely to contract HIV/AIDS than boys of the same age in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Domestic Violence: Child brides are more likely to experience domestic violence than their peers who marry later. It has been reported that child brides are slapped, threatened, and beaten by their husbands. They are more likely to describe their first sexual experience as forced. They are also more likely to show the symptoms of sexual abuse and posttraumatic stress such as feelings of depression and hopelessness.

WHO CAN DO WHAT? 

  • Parents: Parents can refuse to marry their children off at any cost. They should deny any dowry practice which lays the foundation of the greed for marrying their children off. Also, they can practise gender equality amongst their children so that the girl children should not feel deprived of any opportunities and do not think themselves as an economic burden on the family.
  • Male Partners: Boys and the older men marrying a young bride can speak up against their marriage. They can refuse to marry a child bride. Being a male member of the family, their consent will more likely to be heard than the girls whom they are marrying to.
  • Government: The local government bodies can enforce stricter laws and policies which cannot let any child marriages happen in the neighbourhood. They should enforce laws which make it mandatory to check ages of the bride and the groom before their marriage.
  • Girls: Although girls don't have much to say in these matters when they are married off young, they can support each other and can take a collective action if such marriages are happening to their friends. They can educate themselves by staying in the school and let nobody be anybody's child bride.

2 comments:

  1. This is a good roundup of the reasons and effects for child marriage. The solution involves education and improvement of women's rights. I have little faith in the law. We have so many laws in India - all broken with impunity.

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    1. Exactly Kalpanaa. It is so heartbreaking to see that most of these child brides are not even allowed to educate themselves. Without education and exposure to the outside world, it is next to impossible for them to know more about their rights. I have faith in our law and constitution too which is the longest written constitution in the world, all we lack is the self-improvement. It should come from within before any law tells us what to do.

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