Everyday across the globe 25,000 girls are married according to World Vision’s report, Before She’s Ready. Despite these shocking statistics the topic of child marriage has become somewhat taboo, to many it is nothingness than unimaginable, but this unspeakable practice while outdated is alive and well in many cultures across the globe.
Why are childhood marriages so common and desired? There are a multitude of reasons that societies continue to practice early marriage and feel the benefits out way any undesirable consequences. For example if a girl is married young her virginity is more likely to be guarantee, but the main reason is that with early marriage come increased economic and social benefits. A wedding in a rural community is a great source of joy and pride for a family, especially the family of the bride, for they can now see that their child is cared for and has a future. Marriage is also of social importance, as the family receives a great standing in the community, based on the family of the groom or bride. Economically the families of the bride additionally benefit with the increase in social status and having one less mouth to feed, and often benefit from a dowry. In rural agricultural societies once families are joined they often pull their resources together to increase their output and probabilities.
Child marriage spans continents, language, religion, caste.Child marriages cover the globe, and are most common in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, including Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. However child marriages continue in other parts of the world, including South America and among the Roma of Europe.
In India the girls will typically be attached to boys four or five years older; in Yemen, Afghanistan, and other countries with high early marriage rates, the husbands may be young men or middle-aged widowers or abductors who rape first and claim their victims as wives afterward, as is the practice in certain regions of Ethiopia. Some of these marriages are business transactions, barely adorned with additional rationale: a debt cleared in exchange for an 8-year-old bride; a family feud resolved by the delivery of a virginal 12-year-old cousin.
The quote above is from a recently published National Geographic article and photo essay documenting how child marriage is practiced globally, particularly in Northern India and Yemen. According to UNICEF some 60 million children are forced to enter into marriages before they are of legal age, half of which are in South Asia. The problem of child brides is the greatest in Rajasthan, India, where 15% of girls are under 10 years old when they married. Child marriages lead to higher instances of domestic violence and early pregnancies, which leave girls at high risk for death in childbirth, complications, and low birth weights.
While child marriage is outlawed in many states, it still continues to thrive in the dark of night or in the rural villages often forgotten by modern culture and the rule of law. In India, where child marriage is illegal, ceremonies continue to take are frequently conducted in the darkness of night. In India, Parliament passed the Child Marriage Restraint Act in 1978, setting the minimum age for women to get married as 18 and 21 for men. Despite the law child marriages still continue, especially in populous northern states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, and many believe Child Marriage, is a Curse That Still Prevailing in India.
Part 1 of 2