May 21, 2013 | 08:04 PM (BD Time)
21 May, 2013 Tuesday
Social issues related to child marriage
Child marriage typically pertains to two social phenomena of either marrying a young child to an adult or a form of arranged marriage in which the parents of two children arrange for a future marriage. The practice of child marriage is deeply embedded in human culture. In Ancient Rome, women were under the rule of their fathers and were usually arranged to marriage at the young age of twelve or fourteen. This was done to carry on family bloodline and assure economical and political stance. Child marriage continued until the middle ages and even to this modern day, early marriage is still widely observed in Egypt, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Pakistan, India, the Middle East and at a lesser degree in England and he United States.
Causes of child marriage
There are various reasons to the practice of child marriage in these nations. Most common are cultural, social, economic, religious or a mix of these factors. Whatever it maybe, one thing is obvious, the tradition results in the imprisonment of children in marriages without their consent that even leads to a cascade of lifetime miseries.
Child marriage: A faulty cultural belief
In some cultures, adolescent girls marrying at a young age is said to be a way of protecting her sexuality and honor by marrying as a virgin. This is a result of unfair beliefs that poses pressure on young girls becoming child brides.
Child marriage: A surviving social discrimination
Despite the dawn of new age, apparently some forms of social discriminations have remain in the society and child marriage is obviously one. Child marriages show devaluing of girls and boys by robbing their right to decide with their own free will.
Child marriage: A way out of poverty?
One very disheartening cause of youthful marriages is the desire of the family to escape poverty. Poor families sell their children into wealthy husband to be who will settle the debts or gain monetary values in hope to get out of poverty cycle.
Opposition to child marriage
The dawn of the modern century saw the need to address all forms of human rights violations of which child marriage is one. Throughout the world, a growing number of child and women advocates have shown protests against such a practice. The concerns are primarily expressed in the following conventions and charters:
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
These organizations primarily fight for human rights of children, adolescents and especially of women who are often the innocent victims of a faulty societal process. The Convention on the Rights of the Child found the following rights undermined by the practice of child marriage.
The right to an education- Most children especially girls who marries at prepubescence were no longer sent to school for education as they were already expected to perform wifely functions.
The right to be protected from physical and mental violence, injury or abuse, including sexual abuse, rape and sexual exploitation- The marriage itself taking place at an age not yet fully understood by those involved is in itself a mental violence which later on becomes a mental torture.
The right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health- Young marriage will lead to young pregnancy, where a woman's body has not yet reached an optimum state for conception. This leaves the women's health at high risk.
The right to rest and leisure, and to participate freely in cultural life- Early marriage becomes a lifetime prison.
The right to not be separated from parents against the child's will.
The right to protection against all forms of exploitation affecting any aspect of the child's welfare.
The right to eventual employment.
Anti-child marriage advocacy: An ongoing battle
Despite the society's call to end the unfair and vicious practice of child marriage, we still bear witness to countless cases around the world. The primary reason is that nations who allow early marriage are reluctant in adopting the international campaigns of liberating the community from the binds of faulty social beliefs and practices. This results to inadequate laws to oppose such a tradition. If there ever is a law against it, the government does not impose clear punishment on the offenders. Worse, some laws upheld by a nation even promotes child marriage. Such case is giving families their freedom to form own familial laws. This becomes a good venue to impose child weddings.
With these concerns, the entire community should continue its vigilance and intense opposition on child marriage to protect the children and their future against the harsh practices of the yester years that goes on this modern days.
Through our research, ICRW is leading efforts to find solutions that will eliminate the harmful traditional practice of child marriage.
Child marriage most often occurs in poor, rural communities. In many regions, parents arrange their daughter's marriage unbeknownst to the girl. That can mean that one day, she may be at home playing with her siblings, and the next, she's married off and sent to live in another village with her husband and his family - strangers, essentially. She is pulled out of school. She is separated from her peers. And once married, she is more likely to be a victim of domestic violence and suffer health complications associated with early sexual activity and childbearing.
ICRW's early research provided a deeper understanding of the scope, causes and consequences of child marriage. Now, our experts are focused on how to prevent - and ultimately end - the practice.
10 Things You Can Do to End Child Marriage
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