Stop the abuse of child marriage
While the world is talking of gender equality and empowerment of women, we are ignorant about so many child marriages still taking place in many parts of the world. The young, innocent girls live a life worst than animals. They lose their autonomy even before they understand what world is all about. They become vulnerable without any mobility and zero economic power. How can the rest of the world be so apathetic to the one of the biggest threat and abuse to human right?
The arrangement of child marriage is a curse to the mankind; which often prevents the girls from getting the basic education and restricting them to follow their dreams. It can be devastating physically, psychologically, economically and socially. On one hand when we celebrate women empowerment, on the other hand we ruthlessly shrug off the factual instances of the child marriages still prevailing among some communities.
Childhood emotional mistreatment (CEM) has lasting effects. These kids when grow in adulthood; struggle emotionally and socially throughout their lives as a result of being neglected in childhood. Although there is an abundance of literature and research that focuses on the negative impact of childhood maltreatment (CM) in general, the rampant system of child marriage is discussed and argued only when instances are published in media, few people make little noise and the topic gets calmed down.
Child marriage “is an evil worse than rape” and should be completely eradicated from society, said a Delhi court while ordering registration of a case against a girl’s parents for getting her married at a tender age of 8. The Judge of the court said “Child marriage is an evil worse than rape and should be completely eradicated from the society. This will not be possible if the stakeholders like the state fail to take appropriate action against the offenders.”
Now and then young girls are married off to men much older than them. The adult men harass these timid, under grown and gullible girls sexually, physically and mentally. The helpless and devastated girls have no place to return. They are unexposed to the society, often illiterate and have absolutely no experience of life – where do they go? The parents should be pulled up for committing “serious offense”.
Child brides often die young contracting HIV and other venerable diseases, and dying while pregnant or giving birth. In India child marriage is more common among certain groups and among disadvantaged communities in almost all states. Child marriage is marriage before the age of 18, which is usually forced and occurs when the bride is 8-9 or 11-12 years old. The husband is typically several years older than his wife, sometimes decades older. In 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights established that marriage should be a consensual choice. But who’s listening, who is observing, and who is bothered?
Child marriage is mainly prevalent in West Africa, South Asia, North Africa/Middle East, and Latin America. According to the International Center for Research on Women, the highest rates are in Niger, Chad and Mali where over 70 percent of young girls are married. But, it is said that girls are at risk of child marriage in India than most other countries combined.
If this curse is not ended soon, it will get worse. While we are talking about the world getting progressively bigger, people are becoming selfish; self-centered and least bothered about their surroundings. It is estimated that today there are 60 million girls that were married as children, which will double to 100 million in the next 10 years. Millions more child brides are now adult women with families of their own, and their daughters will most likely become wives while still children.
Can you imagine in today’s ultramodern and tech savvy world virginity is a symbol of honor, both for the girl and her family? Therefore, families often marry off daughters early so that when she does start to have sex, it is with her husband. The feeble hypocrite society wants girls to become good wives and mothers; this is how a girl can gain status and honor within the family and community. And the worst is alliances between groups are formed through marriage through the exchange of dowries and bride payments, creating bonds between communities. So are we talking of girls as humans or girls as objects?
Education is the only solution to shun child marriage; but when the most basic necessity of food and shelter is not met with, many economically downtrodden find educations very expensive. Girls are considered burden, and parents think she has to go to another family why spend on her education? Often they invest in their sons instead. Another fact is girls are valued less than boys. Is marriage different than barter system? Marrying off a daughter can bring wealth to her parents in the form of a bride price paid by the husband-to-be, which often helps parents to buy goats or other livestock. We should feel ashamed of such a monstrous system still existing in our society. And, giving away a daughter in marriage means that she is now the responsibility of her husband, thus parents wash off their hands of their daughter’s responsibility. Her husband is free to use her the way he wants. In so many instances when a young wife dies, the man remarries without any delay.
As learned and responsible citizens of this world, let us take little responsibility of those small, little girls; let them not be forced to grow up when they are still kids! Let them study, let them play, let the laugh. They are like budding flowers, let them grow and use their potential for something nice and good.