Child Marriage

Topics: Marriage, Arranged marriage, Family Pages: 7 (2428 words) Published: June 8, 2013
Child Marriage

Child Marriage is an ancient practice that is prevalent especially in poorly developed countries having devastating consequences on the children involved. Every year millions of girls get married worldwide, before the age of eighteen. The worst thing is that the children don’t even know what is going on at the engagement ceremony. Most girls who start early marriages become pregnant immediately. Statistics show that the number of death cases during pregnancy is twice as frequent for women under twenty, because when they become pregnant, their body is not sufficiently developed.

To start with, I think that living away from these practices, few of us realize that these things really exist. This is the reason why I chose to write about this topic and also because I think that we have to make those around us understand that this issue is a priority and each of us could do something in order to protect these children. I strongly believe that children should always be a priority for us. Coming across a shocking article which said that forty million girls under the age of eighteen, marry each year or around one girl every two seconds, had made me more aware of this subject than ever before.

Marriage is a formalized, binding partnership between consenting adults. Child marriage involves either one or both spouses being children and may take place under civil, religious or customary laws with or without formal registration. A child is usually someone under 18. According to the Convention on the Elimination on all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) - marriage before the age of 18 shouldn’t be allowed since children don’t have the ‘full maturity and capacity to act’. The1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that marriage should be ‘entered only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses’. Where one of the parties getting married is under 18, consent cannot always be assumed to be ‘free and full’.

On one hand the causes of early and forced marriage are complex, interrelated and dependent on individual circumstances and context. But the practice is driven by: gender, inequality, poverty, negative traditional and religious practices, failure to enforce laws, conflicts, disasters and damages. On the other hand it contributes to driving girls into a cycle of poverty and powerlessness. They are likely to experience violence, they are abused, they have forced sexual relations, poor sexual and reproductive health, illiteracy and lack of education.

Despite the laws and the organizations that advocate for children’s rights, there are countries where child marriage is still allowed. It seems to me that in such countries the lack of education is the main reason that has led to the preservation and spread of these practices. Child marriage is a product of cultures that devalue women and girls and discriminate against them. "The discrimination," according to a UNICEF report on "Child Marriage and the Law," "often manifests itself in the form of domestic violence, marital rape, and deprivation of food, lack of access to information, education, healthcare, and general impediments to mobility."

According to this report in the poorly developed countries, where the population has no access to education, religion is a custom that is followed closely by each family. In these countries women usually have no rights and laws are made against them. For example, the Hindu religion has enjoyed not keeping a girl unmarried even at a so small age as 8 years. Puberty sets in among Indian females generally after 11 years, when any marriage is considered unholy. It’s suggested that the girls should be married before puberty.

The opposite view point is that, “The Hindu Marriage Act”, which was adopted in 1955, is specified that the groom must be aged 21 years old and the bride 18. Despite of this, in the “Ending child...
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