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Intern Article: Child Brides – Education Competing With Tradition

By Keemia A. January 6, 2016. Edited by Alistair Reign - Digital Publishing Internship.

According to a report by Girls Not Brides Africa is one of the continents with the highest rate of child marriages, with Niger holding seventy-six percent and Chad holding sixty-eight percent. A long side that India has the percentage of forty child marriages. India has the highest absolute of child marriages followed by Bangladesh and Nigeria. [01]

On 7 March, a special session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will focus on child marriage. The Governments of Bangladesh, Malawi and Canada will jointly sponsor the session. It is held in support of Every Woman Every Child, a movement spearheaded by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015. The session will address the problems created by early marriages and ways to prevent them. Mereso Kiluso, a Tanzanian mother of five now in her 20s, who was married at 14 to an abusive man in his 70s, will describe her experience.On March 7, 2013 the UN Commission on the Status of Women held a special session focusing on child marriage. In a joint press release the following statistics were predicted based on the current growth rate:

“Between 2011 and 2020, more than 140 million girls will become child brides, according to United Nations Population Fund.

“If current levels of child marriages hold, 14.2 million girls annually or 39,000 daily will marry too young.

“Furthermore, of the 140 million girls who will marry before the age of 18, 50 million will be under the age of 15.

“Despite the physical damage and the persistent discrimination to young girls, little progress has been made toward ending the practice of child marriage. In fact, the problem threatens to increase with the expanding youth population in the developing world.” [02]

 Children struggle educationally, socially, physically and emotionally. 

Children under 15 are 5 times more likely to die in childbirth.Sub-Saharan Africa has the average of forty percentage of youth getting married. All the countries in that continent have the experience of child marriage even Algeria, which has the lowest rank of child marriages, standing at two percent of its population. [03] The highest rank of child marriages in Africa is Nigeria with the percentage of seventy-six percent that is 131,936,000.00 of its youth getting married. [04]

“These youth are sent off for marriage which may cause some struggle educationally, socially, physically and emotionally, especially for the women,” according to the International Center for Research. [05]

Source: UNICEF State of the World's Children, 2013 - data from UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and other national surveys, and refers to the most recent year available during the period 2002-2011. Source: United Nations

UNICEF -2013- State of the World’s Children. (Source: MICS).

International Center for Research on Women has reported: “In Mali, Mozambique and Niger a majority of the female youth are married before they are eighteen. These girls usually have little to no education, and if they are married before eighteen they will most likely not receive one. The female youth are least likely to be married in Mozambique; a contributing factor appears to be that girls have an opportunity for a higher level of education.

“Most young girls in Africa who are married before eighteen are more likely to contract HIV/AIDS, since they most likely married an older man with few more years of sexual experience. The female youth fifteen-nineteen are more likely to contract HIV/AIDS than their male peers of their age.” [06]

In India forty-seven percent of female youth are ripped away from their education and childhood because of marriage according to the Girls Not Brides Organization. [07]

As well, one in three young women in India have been married by the age of eighteen, and one in nine have been married by the age of fifteen. [08]

“Complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in young women aged 15-19. Young girls who marry later and delay pregnancy beyond their adolescence have more chances to stay healthier, to better their education and build a better life for themselves and their families,” says Flavia Bustreo, M.D., Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health at the World Health Organization. [09]

“Though child marriages in India are illegal that doesn’t stop anyone from practicing it. The older generation has mentioned that this is unfair to stop child marriages in India since they’ve been holding it for years.

‘’“I hate the government for trying to stop us. This is the way we’ve always done things. The government bans this, saying do not get under-aged children married, but we don’t care we do these weddings anyways,” a young bride’s father said.

Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband, outside their home in Hajjah, Yemen. 26 July, 2010. Photo Credit: © Stephanie Sinclair/VII/Tooyoungtowed.org

Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband, outside their home in Hajjah, Yemen. July 26, 2010. (Photo: Stephanie Sinclair).

“These marriages take place in small villages where the majority agree with youth marriages, but of course there has been a selection of women who regret what they have done.

‘’“Had I been married later, I’d have learned to read and write,” said Rukhmani; she had been married at age six-years-old.

‘’These women have mentioned that this prevented them from receiving their education and achieving everything that leads after that. Child marriages have prevented these girls in India from doing much since they have the role of staying at home while their husbands though may have been the same age still get the opportunity at life since they don’t carry the motherly role. With the power the men have many of the young women experience abuse and neglect.

“International Center for Research on Women has studied and proven that women in specific states in India, who get married early in their lives are more likely to being abused and violated by their husbands.”  [10]

child bride tortured

A 15 year old Afghan bride was left starving in a basement by her new husband and his family.  The girl was tortured after she refused to be forced into prostitution. Sahar Gul have [sic] had her nails and clumps of hair pulled out,  she had chunks of flesh cut out with pliers. She was married to a 30 year old man around seven months ago, when she was just 14 years old. Her parents contacted police after not being able to see her for several months. The case came to light last month when police rescued the teenager. January 7, 2012. (Source: Torture, rape and acid for child brides if they refuse to obey men in Afghanistan).

There are several reasons as to why youth get married.

This includes aspects of poverty, and the family needing to send off one child for marriage to reduce expenses by having one less person to feed.

Tradition (of) child marriage has been going on for centuries in certain countries. Child marriages is casualty for them. Gender roles, in society still in all countries not just third world ones the young girls are not valued as much as the young boys, so they lose the opportunity of an education and gain a child marriage instead.

When questioned why young girls married, Child Not Brides said, “Safety, some families believe their young daughter will be better off if married, they believe they will least likely face assault and sexual or domestic abuse.[11]

A larger majority of child brides are sentenced to a lifetime of hardship and domestic abuse.

Members of a family receive treatment at a hospital after the acid attack.(Photo: Reuters). alistairreignblog.com

Afghanistan: Both parents and daughters receive treatment at a hospital after acid was thrown on them by a man when they refused to give their daughter to him for marriage. Jan. 2, 2012. (Photo: Reuters).

Though these families (often) believe their daughters are best off married, it isn’t always the case.  And though the government has made it illegal the community tends to disagree, as a result they still practice it even though it drastically changes the young children’s life. [12]

In Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, at least half of young women are married before the age of 18. The country is working to end the practice “to allow the girl child to continue with education, to become a learned citizen who can contribute to the development and economy of the country,” says Ms. Catherine Gotani Hara, Malawi’s Minister of Health. [13]

In summary, it appears that tradition, along with the hope marriage will provide a better future, is still stronger than government law banning marriage under the age of eighteen. However, many girls are proving education may be the answer by empowering young women with ambition and confidence, and giving them a vision of a different future, one that holds opportunity where neither they, nor their families need rely on a marriage.

🔝


Keemia is a fourteen-year-old student, and she has recently started her internship with the Alistair Reign News Blog. Keemia is an inspiring young lady, she enjoys debating, music and reading; she is multilingual in English, French and Farsi. Keemia’s aspirations include, “vocalizing the problems Muslims face day to day, and talk about the racism in this world. My legacy will be to be a platform for young women whether they be Iranian, Muslim or Middle Eastern girls and I dream to help them rise above obstacles in this world. I want to use my writing to inspire, to motivate and to educate through my writing.” I am proud to welcome Keemia to our publication. As a youth reporter she will be covering humanitarian news, events and other topics surrounding child rights and youth empowerment.

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