Child marriages occur all over the world. Some girls are forced into marriages at ages as young as 11 years-old. This not only results in a huge inbalance between men and women, but also results in the contraction of STDs and well as pregancy. Over 700 million girls and 150 million boys have been married under the age of 18 against their will.
why it happens
Many child marriages boil down to patriarchal social hierarchies still upheld in many countries. Women and girls need to be taken care of by men, and when they are younger, this responsibility falls to their fathers, who passes this responsibility to husbands at young ages.
Another reason child marriage occurs is due to economic instability in many countries. Families often sells their daughters into marriages in order to receive a ‘bride price’ or a dowry from the groom and his family. The bride and her family also see marriage as a way to secure economic stability for her and her family's future. Many girls who are sold into marriage are not educated and are not given an opportunity to go to school. With an education, girls are able to support themselves and are not forced into marriage. If girls were able to educate themselves they would be given more opportuntities within their community.
where it happens
how to help
A major way to help end child marriage is through educating and empowering girls. By working with girls in your community as well as educating the younger generations of problems such as child marriage we will be able to take more steps towards gender equality. Organizations such as Girls Not Brides and CAMFED put efforts into ending child marriages around the world.
another resource about child marriages is Memory Banda's plea against child marriage in her TedTalk: "Memory Banda: A warrior's cry against child marriage."
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Camille Zimmer and Mila Roemer
Photo used under Creative Commons from ralph and jenny