Child Marriage: Why is the Act Performed Throughout Countries Around the World? According to the International Center for Research on Women, “if present child marriage trends continue, more than 142 million girls worldwide will be forced to marry adult men during the next decade-the equivalent of 38,000 girls every day.” Child marriage is defined as marriage before the age of eighteen (International Center for Research on Women, 2012). This marriage is usually forced and comes as a shock to the young girl. Any day, at anytime, a young girl can be taken from her home, sold, married off, and forced to live a life full of threats, violence, and abuse. When I first heard of child marriage I assumed that it happens in countries that aren’t that well off, whom are still living in poverty. I was taken aback when I found out that child marriage is a practice affecting women all over the world: Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and in some communities in Europe and the Americans (Worden, 2010). I want to find out all the usual questions one would ask about a problem in the world today: how, when, who, where, and WHY does child marriage even happen in all of these countries?! After researching these questions in depth, amongst a few of these countries I want to look into what child marriage may have in common in these different countries. In Afghanistan, statistics show that an estimate of 67 percent of all marriages are forced and approximately 57 percent of girls are married before the age of 16. (The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, 2010). Child marriage occurs in Afghanistan despite certain laws that have been made, due to culture and traditions, protection of the child, and economic problems families may face. Child marriage has been part of Afghan culture for thousands of years, and trying to rid a country of a culture event angers a lot of the people living in Afghanistan. Child marriage is known to be apart of Afghan culture as a form of protection. When one tries to put an end to child marriage in Afghanistan, the Afghans view this as going against the culture and traditions of the community (Yousef, 2013). Parents of a young girl, believe they are doing the right thing by selling, giving away, or exchanging their child because they know she will be clothed, fed, and sheltered from the violence and sexual abuse that the country of Afghanistan is faced with. Under Afghanistans constitution, the minimum age for females is 16, but in rural and urban areas the tradition of marrying off daughters while young in order to receive money remains common among the poor. (Irinnews.org) Families living in poverty is one of the reasons child marriage is so high in Afghanistan. Some Afghan families can’t afford to take care of their children once they are born, so their best solution is marrying off their daughters. They view this as “if she gets married, she will have something for herself”. (Yousef, 2013) As if child marriage isn’t a problem already, a huge problem arises once the marriage is in effect. The problem that arises is childbirth in young girls who aren’t mature enough to carry a child to full term. This results in the baby not making it to full term, or the young girl dying while trying to give birth. In Afghanistan, it is said that every hour, two women die while giving birth- the highest maternal mortality rate in Asia. (Irinnews.org) This all comes as a shock to me as I read that “most harmful practices are crimes under Afghan law and inconsistent with Sharia law”. Under Islam, marriage is said to be a mutual contractual agreement and consent is required by both the woman and the man for a marriage to be valid. The marriage of girls before the age of sixteen, is against Afghan law. (Gangon, 140) So why are all these marriages occurring?! Well, it is said that “the police and judiciary in Afghanistan often fail to enforce laws that respect women’s rights, and tend to take a selective...
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