News broke about the tragic death of an eight-year-old Yemeni girl who passed away after being raped on her wedding night. The practice of child marriage is a despicable violation of human rights. Not only does underage marriage suppress the livelihood of the victims, but it also perpetuates poverty, violence and instability in developing countries where child marriage is prevalent.
According to a March 2013 World Vision report, "Untying the Knot," every year, 13.5 million girls marry before their eighteenth birthdays. This trend is especially rampant in South Asia, where this happens to 46% of women, and in West and Central Africa, where the percentage is as high as 41%.
Early marriage is a major health risk for young brides; girls frequently experience severe reproductive health complications, premature pregnancy, high child mortality rates and are subject to domestic violence. BBC UK reports that pregnancy related deaths are the leading cause of death worldwide for girls aged 15 to 19.
Despite our condemnation of the highly controversial practice and our efforts to combat it, child marriage is still very real. Young women receive grave repercussions for rebelling against their arranged marriages, so it is important that we address the issue, act on their behalf and tackle this terrifying reality head-on.
Nigerian Senator Defends Teen Marriage To 13-Year-Old Girl
In July, popular television show and website, Vice, reported that underage marriage was almost made illegal in Nigeria until one Senator, Ahmad Sani Yerima, persuaded the Senate to reverse its decision. Through corrupt tactics, such as blackmail and perverse persuasion, Yerima claimed that when a woman is married, she instantaneously reaches her full mental capacity, no matter her age. Shockingly, 39% of women are married in Nigeria before the age of eighteen, and 17% before the age of fifteen.
5-Year-Old Child Is Married Off in Rajasthan, India
Rajani was just five years old when her uncle woke her up from a nap and carried her to her wedding ceremony. Although child marriage is illegal in India, according to the Daily Mail, secret matrimony still takes place in the villages. Tradition dictates that the child bride must live at home until puberty, and then is transferred to her husband. A startling 47% of women are married before turning eighteen years old in India.
Bangladeshi Bride Gives Birth at Just 14 Years Old
A study by the International Center for Research on Women uncovered this horrifying story of Shefali, a Bangladeshi woman who was married at age twelve and gave birth to a daughter at fourteen. Her baby survived just three days and her next two children suffered the same, untimely fate. At 22-years-old, she finally has one surviving baby.
According to a 2011 UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children report, one-third of women aged 20-24 in Bangladesh were married by the age of 15 and about two-thirds by the age of 18, making Bangladesh one of the top endorsers of child brides.
Family Tortured 15-Year-Old Afghan Bride
Sahar Gul was only fifteen when she was burned, beaten and had her fingernails pulled out by her husband and in-laws upon her refusal to become a prostitute. Once police rescued her, her family was sentenced to ten years in prison, but they were released shockingly early due to "lack of evidence." This was a huge setback for Women's Rights in Afghanistan, where 39% of women are married before eighteen. Due to extreme poverty and hunger, desperate parents marry their daughters off increasingly early in hopes of giving them "a better life."
15-Year-Old Nepalese Bride Unable To Attend School Because She's Tending To A Baby
This harrowing story is all too familiar -- another childhood is stolen from a young Nepalese girl when she is married to an older man and impregnated at fifteen. Child marriage is especially predominant among uneducated women. Over half of Nepalese girls are married before eighteen, making Nepal a high-ranked country for underage brides. Despite the legal age being eighteen, the prevalence of child marriage is exceptionally high.
Prolonged Drought Forces Kenyan Children Into Marriage
In 2011, TrustLaw reported that long-term droughts were forcing families to sell their daughters into early marriages in order to survive the hardship. These "drought brides" were married in secrecy because Kenya's new Marriage Bill prohibits engagements under the age of eighteen. Despite this legislation, in many rural parts of the country, the practice is widespread.
70-Year-Old Saudi Divorces 15-Year-Old Bride
In Saudi Arabia, there is no law that stipulates the minimum age for marriage. CNN reported that a 70-year-old man divorced his teenage wife after she escaped back to her family. His biggest complaint was that the young girl's family tricked him into paying a $20,000 dowry, but then took their daughter back. Although he claims to be seventy, Saudi's Human Rights Commission believes he is actually eighty-six and the woman is twenty-five. While this young girl was thankfully returned to her home, there are still millions of children who face a more sinister fate.
Ethiopian Girl Didn't Even Know Her Husband's Real Age
When Enana, a young Ethiopian living in despair with her much older husband, was married, she wasn't even informed of her spouse's true age. She estimates that she was around seventeen at the time, while her husband was most likely around thirty. Unfortunately, her tale is all too common; she blames her parents for marrying her off too prematurely. "I was a child," Enana said. "I didn't even know how to clean myself." Enana is now part of a program called TESFA (which means "hope" in Amharic) for adolescent girls that helps them learn valuable skills to manage their new and unwanted lives.
8-Year-Old Girl From Yemen Dies After Being Raped On Wedding Night By 40-Year-Old Husband
The victim, identified only as Rawan, died in Hardh, Yemen, according to a report by UPI on Sunday, September 8. On the eve of her wedding night to a man 32 years her senior, an eight-year-old girl bled to death from deep vaginal tearing. Her story is just one of many similar tragedies that continuously elucidate the gravity of this all too common situation.
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