The Sad Truth about Child Marriages around the World

Read this post authored by Ava Smith for some shocking statistics and the real picture behind child marriage, a social menace that needs to be addressed all around the world at the earliest. 

The Gloomy Picture: Shocking Stats about Child Marriage the World Over

The United Nations states that by 2030, the count of girls being married off as children (before they reach the marriageable age in their respective countries) will cross 1.2 billion. That is more than one-seventh of the world’s population right now. Are we ready to carry that kind of burden in our souls for the rest of our lives?

Shocking statistics from all around the world reveal the sad picture for the girls of this generation. While the developed nations rest comfortably ensconced in the privileges brought to them by education, awareness, and stringent law enforcement practices, the ones from the not-so-developed areas of the globe bear the brunt of age-old traditions and lack of alternative modes of living.

Featured image used for representative purposes only. Courtesy: Talk of the Town

 

Child marriage is legal in some countries

What’s more, six countries in the world do not have a specific minimum age for marriage for boys and girls in their country. That makes it even more dangerous for the kids growing up in those countries. The ones that do not have a minimum age limit for getting married are:


1.       Yemen
2.      South Sudan
3.      Somalia
4.      Saudi Arabia
5.      Gambia
6.      Equatorial Guinea

Not having a specific minimum age for marriage makes child marriage somewhat of a legal occurrence in the countries mentioned above. That itself is atrocious enough to sit up and take notice of what’s going wrong with the rest of the countries that still cannot keep such a social evil in check despite having the laws for it.

Looking into the matter of child marriage across the world

Girls in countries like Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Mali, Somalia and Bangladesh suffer a cruel twist of fate when they have to get married way before the ideal time. Here are some of the shocking statistics about child marriages that take place around the world, every day.

®    7% of girls in the Middle East and North Africa, 9% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa, and 14% of girls in South Asia are married off between the age of 15 to 19.

®    12 million girls are married off each year before they reach 18 years of age. That estimate comes to around 23 underage girls getting married against their wills or wishes per minute. Yes, you read that right. It is that grave a matter.

®    The highest percentage of child marriages take place in Niger (76%) followed by Central African Republic (68%), Chad (67%) and Bangladesh (59%).

Causes and consequences of child marriage

Child marriage shows no signs of stopping. Children married off at tender ages not only fall prey to disease and violence, but their childhoods are also marred by the complications that life and society forces on them to tackle at such ages.

    Causes of child marriage

The reasons that child marriage is still prevalent all around the world are as follows –

(i)          Poverty: Poverty is one of the leading causes of child marriage being such a rampant practice in most Third World countries. The inability to sustain the female members of the family becomes one of the leading causes to marry off daughters at tender ages so that they can work in the fields and at home as manual labour without charging additional wages.

(ii)          Lack of education: The lack of education and awareness about the consequences of early marriage (especially on the body and minds of the children) also leads to child marriage. Most of the people living in areas where child marriage is a common practice are not literate. They are not aware of the dire consequences that their children face when married off before they come of marriageable age.

(iii)     Age-old traditions and norms: Societal norms and traditions sometimes force the parents to indulge in child marriage because that is how it has been for generations of girls before them.


(iv)        Weak law enforcement: Child marriage continues to be a growing menace in countries where the law enforcement agencies are lax. Poor law enforcement ensures that the parents go scot-free even after committing a ‘crime' in the eyes of the law.

(v)         Gender discrimination: Cultures that do not value females or their worth in society, such as the sub-Saharan countries, tend to have high rates of child marriage as well. Disrespecting their very right to live a life of their choice, girls in such societies fall prey to the social evil that is child marriage.

    Consequences of child marriage

Coming to the implications of this heinous practice, here are a few that can be gauged by social activists and researchers. These apart, several other psychological and social problems may arise from marrying off children before they are of age. The following are some of the consequences of child marriage.

(i)             Rise of illiteracy: Denied a right to education, girls all around the world suffer from illiteracy because of being forced into marriages early in their lives. They have to take up the household responsibilities and sometimes have to work in the fields to assist their in-laws' families. Hence, they rarely get a chance to acquire the skills of reading or writing.

(ii)           Denial of human rights: When girls are forced into early marriages, they are denied some fundamental human rights. These include the right to education, the right to be protected from sexual abuse, rape and exploitation, the right to enjoyment and leisure as well as a cultural life, the right to not be separated from her parents against her will, and the right to prospective employment, to name a few.

(iii)         Victims of abuse: Girls trapped in child marriages end up being the victims of sexual and mental abuse at the in-laws’ place and face tremendous amounts of violence – both sexual and otherwise – all their lives.

(iv)    Spread of HIV/AIDS: As a consequence of the lack of awareness towards safer practices, girls who are married off as children quite often become bearers of HIV/AIDS or other STDs. This leads to a whole community and generations of children being affected by incurable diseases, causing more problems for the future of healthcare and sustainability.

(v)         Early motherhood consequences: Forced into early marriages, girls not only have to take on household responsibilities at a tender age, but also have to bear children right after they hit puberty. Let’s face it, their bodies are not prepared for the child-bearing function at such ages. As a consequence, they develop severe pregnancy and post-natal complications that have a long-term effect on their bodies.

The future of millions of girls is at stake here. If we choose to look the other way while countries in the Middle East, sub-Saharan regions and South-East Asia continue with the malpractice of child marriage, then we are simply no better than the people who are guilty of the act itself. By signing petitions, urging the United Nations and respective governments to take action, or by helping an organisation fighting against child marriage, we can do our bits towards ensuring a brighter and happier world for the girls to come. It is high time that we pledge to let all girls have a chance at living life in their own terms, and give wings to their dreams.

About the Author:
Ava Smith provides prompt essay help at MyAssignmenthelp.com for students in Australia. Based in Brisbane, Being as a former social studies professor I am one of the most sought-after assignment help on board MyAssignmenthelp.com. Apart from helping students overcome academic hurdles and writing enriching blogs, I also enjoy baking.