A few days ago, I read about a young eight-year-old child bride in Yemen who died on her wedding night of internal bleeding uterine complications. Her groom was five times her age.
My mouth flew open, and my stomach turned into a knot. How dare he, I thought. How could he? I made a point of finding out why this little girl died in excoriating pain and the reason for her marriage at eight. I thought of my daughters, my grand daughters who at eight played with Barbie Dolls, line skated, rode their bicycles, and had sleepovers’ with a bunch of giggling girl friends.
1. WHERE DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Here is the list of twenty countries with the higher percentages of girl brides (2013 statistics)
Central African Republic 68%
South Sudan 62%
Burkina fasa 52%
Sierra Leone 44%
Dominican Republic 41%
If countries do not enforce age of consent to marry, by end of the decade 142 million girls will be married under the age of 18. One out of three girls lives in countries that allow girl bride ceremonies to occur.
2, WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR FAMILIES TO MARRY THEIR GIRLS EARLY?
Girls are not assets even though they receive a dowry. Some of the reason are this is a tradition. I remember viewing a National Geographic show on TV and watching child brides get prepared for their wedding. They were laughing and smiling, and never did I consider the plight of these young girls. There are social stigmas attached to older women who are beyond the marriageable age.
3. WHAT HAPPENS TO THESE GIRLS?
They find themselves trapped forever in a life of poverty like their mother and their mother’s mother and so on.
Education stops as soon as they are married. After all, their responsibility is to their husband and they must accept the role of a wife. If not, they’ll receive a beating, or they receive beatings for just the heck of it. For many they have no where to turn.
They have early pregnancies. Girls under the age of 15 are five times more likely to die during childbirth.
The girls suffer from obstetric things like fistulas and urinary prolapses.
Here is another story about a young Ethiopian girl who married at 13. She became pregnant and lost her baby. Because she ended up with a fistula, her husband divorced her. Finally, she was able to obtain a surgery. Again, she was married and lost her child. After her childbirth, she obtained another fistula, and once again her second husband divorced her. She supported herself as best as she could on petty trade. She continued in this manner on bare existence. Until she meant an agency, who gave her psychological treatment and helped her rise above her poverty.
4. WHAT ARE THE ARGUMENTS SUPPORTING CHILD BRIDES?
It is tradition or “ethnic identity.” A girl is safer married from all sexual predators. But what about the brother of the groom who forces sex on the brother’s wife? She is beaten. After all this is her fault.
5. WHAT LIES AHEAD IF THINGS CHANGE?
Girls can receive an education and have a positive impact on health, economy and poverty reduction for themselves and their communities.
There is hope some of these countries listed who have child brides are passing laws to raise the age of marriage for girls. The problems I see with this are who is going to enforce this? Is it only after a death of a child that the community, her country and the world becomes alarmed?
Two years ago, US passed an International law protecting girls by passing the Preventive Child Marriage Act and Violence Against Women’s Act, which addresses child marriage in our foreign policy.
My hope is these little girls can one day enjoy a sunny day and be allowed to grow and learn through ,education so they can make an influence on their communities and their country. I hope one day instead of being a little bird with a clipped wing, these girls can fly and soar to heights for themselves and humanity. Let their be no limits. In the mean time, my sister girl bride, I can pray for you and this is what I’m going to do.
(All information and statistics came from http://www.girlsnotbrides.org)
I would love to hear what you think of this. Leave me a commit. I’ll next blog on Tuesday, September 17. In the mean time, God Bless you all.