Selling Children for Marriage - Mary Anne Zammit

Zminijietna Harga Ottubru – Dicembru 2008

 

In our world it would be totally unimaginable to see our young children being given for marriage but unfortunately this appalling reality is most common in countries which are relatively poor. Their low economic situations are leading to many devastating consequences which are child slavery, human trafficking and child marriage.

Countries which are developing allow marriage of children where families living in poor conditions see marriage as a means of providing financial security. Most of the children given for marriage are girls under 18 years and this is most commonly practiced in Southern Africa, Southern Asia and Latin America.

For girls aged between 15 and 19 the percentages are as follows. For instance in Democratic Republic of Congo there are 74%, Niger 70 %, Afghanistan 54 %, in Bangladesh 51%, Honduras 30 % and Iraq 28%. In Nepal,  7% of the girls are married before the age of 10 years (Press Release UNICEF).                                      

In return of giving their child for marriage, the parents are given compensation for the family to survive.  One of the many reasons often used in justifying child marriage is that the girls by marrying at an early age are being protected from premarital sex and violence. The real facts are that child marriage is depriving girls from education and other social opportunities. Child marriage creates emotional and physical harm on young women and girls. UNICEF (United Nations Children Funds) which opposes child marriage states that child marriage for girls under the age of 18 is violating the children’s rights.   

These children sold for marriage are not only being deprived from education which is a fundamental right, but suffer from health problems caused by premature pregnancy. Most likely girls get pregnant before they are physically ready to bear children which leads to  further complications and girls who are younger than 15 years are at risk to die during child birth. Also, their new born babies are under high risk.

In these countries, the use of contraception is not allowed or promoted and girls having  no say  are more  liable to sexually transmitted diseases.

AIDS is another contracted disease and girls are more at risk.  A common tradition most commonly found in Southern Africa is the false belief that

AIDS can be cured if an infected man sleeps with a virgin.   With these ailments, children are then abandoned and left alone in the community.

Deprived from education these children are illiterate and it is therefore difficult for them to earn their living. 

The use of child marriage is not a myth but a reality which is happening till date. Children are being robbed from their innocence, deprived from their rights, isolated and condemned to endure the long term effects of  depression and stress.  This is not offering a future for children.

The use of child marriage needs to be abolished and education is the key. Girls who are educated are less likely to be married young and education provides a future for these girls and helps them to become self sufficient.
                                                        
References 

-BBC News. Child Marriage Violates Rights. http://marriage about com/od arranged/ marriages/a/child bride.htm
-Child Marriage. What we know.http;/ www.pbs.org/new/shows/341/facts/html
-UNICEF.  Press Release. Child Marriages must stop.

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