Why Child Marriage Needs To Stop

November 8, 2016

Child marriage is one of the most active human rights violation in the world. According to reports by UNICEF, child marriage largely affects girls the most. From 2011 to 2020, at least 140 million girls will be married and some of them will be under the age of 15. A third of South Asia’s girls and half of Sub-Saharan Africa’s girls are married by their 18th birthday. Chad, Niger, Nepal, and Bangladesh are the countries with the highest rates of child marriage. Marriage is extremely dangerous for young girls. Often they are expected to be ready sexually and to bear children, but because they are so young, pregnancy is hazardous for both the girl and her unborn child. These types of marriages occur due to economic, socio-cultural, and political aspects. Child marriage ruins a girl's chances at an education and a better life.

One of the leading factors of child marriage is economic instability. Many families marry off their daughters due to their financial situation, especially if the country is unstable. Schools in these types of places can be very expensive, so families are more inclined to send the boys rather than the girls. In many scenarios families can not afford to feed all their kids. Some families  have a lot of daughters and since girls are seen as an economic burden, it’s easier to give them to marriage. Older men tend to pay a little more money for young girls, because they’re young and might be able to produce more children. Marriages like these are more likely to occur in rural areas than in urban areas. Generally that kind of money is helpful, particularly if the family has sons that need a dowry in order to get their own bride.

In many countries, child marriages stem from the idea that boys are better than girls, especially if that country has a patriarchal society. Most of these places have cultural norms that support the notion that girls are only good for marriage. Several cultures have put value on a girl’s virginity, and how it relates to her family's honor. If a girl was to have an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, she would bring shame upon her family's name and because of this girls are usually married right after puberty. Wealthy parents that live in these places are more likely to marry off their daughters to protect her virginity and to increase her chances of motherhood. Not knowing that girls that are married young are more likely to experience marital rape and increase their chances of HIV.

Even though most countries have set an age limit on marriage, it’s not usually enforced, especially in rural areas. It’s easier to have a child married in rural areas than in urban areas. Governments in developing countries struggle to maintain control over their laws and citizens, so issues like child marriage don't take precedence, and that leaves girls neglected. Which puts their life in danger, since pregnancy is extremely dangerous for adolescent girls.Although most governments have made a pact to get rid of child marriage, it’s difficult to end a practice that's been happening for generations.

Child marriage is one of the biggest global issues happening in the world. If not stopped, than 39,000 girls will continue to be married every day, ruining their chances at an education, a better life, and jeopardizing their life.

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