Kristine V. Tomas
The Effects of Early Marriage to the Educational Attainment of Children in Sta Ines West, Sta. Ignacia, Tarlac
THE PROBLEM AND ITS BACKGROUND
Child marriage is defined by the World Health Organization (2005) as the period between 15 and 19 years of age when girls contract a permanent sexual relationship. At a global and national level, there has been growing concern about girl-child marriage age (The Family Life Movement of Zambia, 2006; UNICEF, 2005). This is because girls who marry early are twice as likely to die from childbirth and are more vulnerable to pregnancy-related complications, sexually transmitted diseases, and higher levels of reproductive mortality and morbidity. Despite these, a number of girls get married earlier than expected in Uganda (UNICEF, 2005; World Health Day: Safe Motherhood, 2007), which shows that the problem still looms at large with a mean age of early marriage at 15.5 years (UNICEF, 2005). Historically, individuals were allowed to enter into a marriage contract at a very young age. In Ancient Rome, the appropriate minimum age was regarded as 14 for males and 12 for females. When Rome became Christianized, these age minimums were adopted into the ecclesiastical law of the Catholic Church. This canon law governed most marriages in Western Europe until the Reformation. When England broke away from the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church carried with it the same minimum age requirements for the prospective bride and groom. The minimum age requirements of 12 and 14 were eventually written into English civil law. By default, these provisions became the minimum marriage ages in colonial America. These common laws inherited from the British remained in force in America unless a specific state law was enacted to replace them. Encyclopædia Britannica 2005. While Roman, Catholic, English, and early American law may have allowed marriage at 12 for girls and 14 for boys, many questioned the advisability of such early unions. Researchers and policymakers around the turn of the twentieth century recognized that teens may be especially ill-prepared to assume the familial responsibilities and financial pressures associated with marriage. As a result of the changing economic and social landscape of the United States, in the latter part of the nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth century, individual states began to slowly raise the minimum legal age at which individuals were allowed to marry. In the United States, as in most developed countries, age restrictions have been revised upward so that they are now between 15 and 21 years of age. Although uncommon in most developed countries, early marriage is still prevalent in developing countries around the world. According to the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW, 2003), the practice is highest overall in West Africa and in south and central Asia. Although rates vary considerably from country to country, in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Mali, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Uganda, more than half of today’s 20–24-year-old women married before turning 18. The increase in number of early girl age at marriage may be due to low academic achievement and low spirituality among girls but requires a study to be conducted for empirical evidence. Evidence shows that academic achievement among Ugandan girls is lower compared to boys (Kasente, 2005; MoES, 2006; Muhwezi, 2007; Wagwau, 2008). The indicator of academic achievement is a student’s progression from one class to another and can be measured in terms of student attrition (that is school dropout and class repetition) and academic performance (Bean,2007). The dropout rate at secondary school for girls in 2005 was 7.6 percent while that of boys was six percent (Muhwezi 2006). The rate for girls had gone down to 6.9 percent while that for boys was still at six percent. In the number of dropouts...
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