A Day Dedicated to Empowering Young Women and Putting an End to Child Marriage

Too young to wed: This photo of child brides Tehani (in pink) and Ghada was featured in National Geographic magazine.

The United Nations (UN) published a news report this past Thursday, October 11, 2012, to mark the UN Day of the Girl Child. This day is dedicated to the “unique challenges girls face around the world” and it focuses on educating girls in academics, health, social and livelihood skills so they can become knowledgeable, active citizens.

This is the UN’s response to stop the alarming amount of child marriages throughout the world. At this rate, the UN predicts that between now and 2020, there will be 142 million child marriages and 151 million in the subsequent decade. Also, one in three girls in developing countries, excluding China, will probably be married before they are eighteen while one in nine will be married before their fifteenth birthday.

Child marriage is internationally recognized as a human rights violation. Forcing these girls to wed at any early age not only inhibits their abilities to go back to school and grow as an individual, but there is a higher risk of them getting sexually transmitted diseases and becoming victims of domestic violence.

These statistics and facts are disturbing and have triggered countries to pass laws against child marriage but this practice continues in spite of them. All over the world women rights activists have rallied and set up organizations to promote women’s education and protest against child marriage in hopes of sparking action by their government. The UN supports these activists’ efforts and calls upon the international community to follow suit and support young women in their fight for education and freedom.

What needs to be done by these countries’ governments to truly put an end to these practices? What else do you think the UN needs to do in order to end child marriage?

Source: The Telegraph, The United Nations, San Francisco Chronicle

Photo Source: The Telegraph

3 comments

  1. The practice of child marriage has decreased over the last 30 years but it is not happening quick enough. Child brides are more likely than unmarried girls to die at a younger age, suffer health problems and remain illiterate. To the western world it seems crazy to have child marriages, but in countries where families are having large amounts of children with no way to take care of them, we can see why children, especially young girls are married off quickly. It is one less mouth to feed. Sadly these girls are then forced to have children way before they are physically and emotionally capable. In order to make this movement away from child marriages universal, we need to spread the word about the problems with child marriages, as well as try to implement ways for some countries to have access to birth control methods. It’s about changing cultures. Maybe the only quick way to do it is to change laws. However, without changing cultural views around birth control it is not likely to be a fix for some of these nations problems. Communities with large families are not able to take care of all of their children, they need some to be able to leave the family. How does the law fix this?

  2. Each country’s views on women are a direct cause of the prevalence of child marriage. Women and girls are not as educated in academics, health, or social and livelihood skills. Therefore, they are not seen as knowledgeable, active citizens, and therefore are less valuable then men. So, why not marry them off young, and have them start their “domestic duties” as early as possible? This view is obviously deeply flawed, and until women’s rights increase in these countries, child marriage will continue to increase. Another main problem is that this is the history of how women are treated in their society, and therefore they are almost numb to it. It is a fact of life. These countries need to realize the consequences of their actions. Child marriage hinders young girl’s mental growth and puts them at a higher risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases and becoming victims of domestic violence. In addition, these countries in a way are condoning rape. Some of these girls are so young, that they could obviously not consent to sex with a most likely much older man. The UN should be making rules to ban this altogether. It cannot wait for these countries to change their views and traditions that are embedded in their culture.

  3. UNICEF reports that across countries, “poverty is one of the major factors underpinning child marriage.” A quick Google search will reveal interesting correlations between poverty rates and child marriage rates. It doesn’t take much of a leap to infer that in countries with extreme poverty, young girls are an economic burden on their families. Early child marriage, then, is a means to ensure financial security and therefore survival of the family. On similar rational, the younger a daughter is married, the less dowry her family must pay.

    So if you’re looking for a way to quash child marriages, you have a long road ahead; you might as well be looking to solve world poverty.

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