Imagine you’re a girl and you’re playing with your siblings one day, and the next day you’re married to a man twice (or even thrice) your age and sent to live with his family, all strangers to you. Imagine being pulled from school and separated from your friends, forever. Imagine no more, because these horrific scenarios are a reality for millions of poor girls around the world. More often than not, these arranged married young girls will experience:
- Domestic violence
- Sexual abuse
- Social isolation
Health problems will also be inevitable, due to early sexual activity, childbearing and exposing them to high risks of maternal and child mortality including sexual transmitted diseases, such as HIV. The International Center for Research on Women is a great source for more information about child marriages.
Why is child marriages happening?
- Most of these girls come from poor and rural communities, and these situations bind the girls and their families to this vicious cycle of poverty. Many girls and their families do not want early marriages, but often their options are very limited.
- Girls are not as highly valued as boys, so they are viewed as burdens by their poor families. Marrying off a daughter means her parents have one less mouth to feed.
- When a girl marries, she will bring wealth to her parents through the bride price of goats or livestock.
Tradition and Culture
Girls in child marriages are pressured to being good wives and mothers, as this is the only way the girl can move up in rank of status within her family and community. This infographic looks at some disturbing statistics and facts about girls and child marriages and how girls and women are not seen as human beings, never mind as equals or partners to men. Girls and women in many parts of the world are only seen as chattel, and as currency to alleviate their poor family’s financial status. It is also mind boggling to know that child marriage rates are not reducing, but will double in the next 10 years. Ten years is not a long time! Are we not doing enough to eradicate this absurd mindset and tradition so that every single girl on this planet can have equal access to an education and work opportunities, as their male counterpart?
Here is how you can help
- Encourage poor girls to say NO to early marriage.
- Encourage poor girls to strive towards an education.
- Help raise awareness about the negative consequences of child marriages.
- Support programs that offer girls other options to marriage.
- Demand for more effective enforcement policies and laws that condemn child marriages.
With your help, it is only then that millions of poor girls around the world will no longer see child marriage as the only option, and they will have the opportunity to be empowered to reach their fullest potential.