Child Brides – A Most Heart-Breaking Story

Posted By Levi

August 4th, 2013 12:05pm

Category: Women

child bride

For the past few days the world’s attention has been drawn once again to the horrible practice of child marriages by the story of Nada al-Ahdal,  an 11 year-old girl from Yemen who refused to consent to the marriage arranged for her by her parents to an older man. She ran away from home and made a video in which she rails against the injustices of child marriages.

But first, some background.

In many poor countries of the world, women and girls are often treated as second-class citizens with little or no rights. They are less educated and are subjected to many abusive practices.

Every year millions of young girls throughout the world are forced into marriages against their wishes. These “child brides” as they are sometimes called, are as young as 9 years-old. They are often married to much older men. It is not unusual to see stories like this  and this –11-year-old girl married to 40-year-old man.

Child marriages occurred in various parts of the world but it is most common in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and some countries in the Middle East. For example, in Niger, 77 per cent of 20- to 24-year-old women were married before the age of 18. In Bangladesh it is 65 per cent. Roughly half of Yemeni girls are married before 18, some by the age eight even though Yemeni law set the minimum age for marriage at 15.

The practice is driven mostly by the grinding poverty in these counties. In most cases, the man has to pay a large dowry – a price for the bride – to the girl’s parents. Often this money is needed to feed and clothe the rest of the family.

Child marriages have serious consequences for the young brides.

According to Human Rights Watch, child marriage directly threatens the health and well-being of girls: complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the main cause of death among adolescent girls aged 15-19 in developing countries.

Girls aged 15 to 20 are twice as likely to die in childbirth as those in their 20s, and girls under the age of 15 are five times as likely to die.

Child marriage frequently ends a girl’s education forever. Girls who marry young are often expected to take on responsibilities at home that are prioritized over attending school.

What happens when girls try to resist early marriage?

Girls who refuse to accept or stay in forced marriages, or who elope because they want to marry someone not chosen or approved of by their families, are often at risk of violence, imprisonment, and in extreme cases, may be killed by their families or husbands.

Back to the case of Nada al-Ahdal.  She is a smart and eloquent young girl who explains the horrors of child marriages.
She vows never return to her family. Her story touches the heart. Please watch.

Twitter -@Levianthony123

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