EARLY CHILD MARRIAGE IN 2020
WHY DOES CHILD MARRIAGE FR YOUNG GIRLS HAPPEN?
According to the Girls not brides Website;
At its heart, this practice is rooted in gender inequality. In other words, there is a common belief that girls and women are somehow inferior to boys and men. Child marriage is a complex issue. Poverty, lack of education, cultural practices, and insecurity fuel and sustain the practice.
But drivers will vary from one community to the next and the practice may look different across regions and countries. And even within the same country. If you think that Early Child Marriage only happens in “Third world countries”, then you are mistaken. Human Rights Organizations estimate that over 240,000 Marriages happen the the USA due to lax laws and parental consent.
In many communities where child marriage is practiced, girls are not valued as much as boys – they are seen as a burden on their family. Marrying your daughter at a young age can be viewed as a way to ease economic hardship by transferring this ‘burden’ to her husband’s family.
This practice is also driven by patriarchal values and the desire to control female sexuality. For instance, how a girl should behave, how she should dress, who she should be allowed to see, to marry, etc.
Families closely guard their daughters’ sexuality and virginity in order to protect the family honor. Girls who have relationships or become pregnant outside of marriage are shamed for bringing dishonor on their family.
CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS
Young Girls marriage is a traditional practice that in many places happens simply because it has happened for generations. In some communities, when girls start to menstruate, they become women in the eyes of the community. Marriage is therefore the next step towards giving a girl her status as a wife and mother.
Harmful traditional practices can be linked to each other. In southern Ethiopia for instance, child marriage usually follows the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting. This practice is considered a rite of passage to womanhood.
Traditional practices often go unquestioned because they have been part of a community’s life and identity for an exceptionally long time. But as Graça Machel, widow of Nelson Mandela, says, traditions are made by people – and people can unmake them.
POVERTY AND INEQUALITY
More than half of girls from the poorest families in the developing world are married as children. Where poverty is acute, families and sometimes girls themselves believe that marriage will be a solution to secure their future.
Giving a daughter in marriage allows parents to reduce family expenses by ensuring they have one less person to feed, clothe and educate. Families may also see investing in their son’s education as more worthwhile investment as apposed to a daughter. In some cases, marriage of a daughter is a way to repay debts, manage disputes, or settle social, economic, and political alliances.
In communities where a dowry or ‘bride price’ is paid, it is often welcome income for poor families. In those where the bride’s family pays the groom a dowry, they often asked to pay less money if the bride is young and uneducated.
INSECURITY AND INMUNITY
Many parents marry their daughters young because they feel it is in her best interest, often to ensure her safety in areas where girls are at high risk of harassment and physical or sexual assault.
Child Marriages can increase in humanitarian crises, such as in conflict or after a natural disaster. When families face even greater hardship, they may see child marriage as a coping mechanism in the face of poverty and violence. Nine out of the ten countries with the highest child marriage rates are considered fragile states. These states have created lax laws that do not protect young girls and immunity from prosecution.
The Paz Foundation Work in Bolivia
The Paz Foundation is currently working with young indigenous girls in El Alto Bolivia with local Charitable Organizations. We are offering job training, incubators, and sex education. These programs are making a dramatic difference in raising self-esteem, awareness and lowering of early child marriage.
Note: The Following facts and figures related to this article were taken from the Girls not Brides News and Events section of their website. We have added some know statistics for the USA and our comments are based on our work in Bolivia with the Paz Foundation.
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