What is Child Marriage?
Child marriage is defined as formal marriage or informal union before age 18,most of the time girls are the ones affected but boys can be affected also.Child marriage occurs worldwide and treats young girls as property and imposes on their health,economic independence,education,and their status in society. The goal of this presentation on child marriage is to persuade members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives to reintroduce the "International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act". If this act is passed many advantages would be present, for instance educational opportunities for women would be provided, skill building for women, expanding economic opportunities, and many more which would put child marriage to an end.
The picture shows how a young girl is marrying an older man, and in most cases of child marriage, girls are married to significantly older men.
Cultural relativism is defined as the belief that cultures should be judged by their own standards. However, child marriage does not fall under cultural relativism because it violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is significant because it notes the fundamental human rights that should be universally protected. Many countries signed the UDHR on December 10, 1948 and are expected to follow the 30 articles associated with the UDHR but are failing. Of the countries that signed the UDHR, one of which was India and India violates many articles, one of which is article 16, which states, "Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of intending spouses". To further explain, the child has no choice in saying no to the marriage and is obligated to say yes. This demonstrates how the practice of child marriage cannot fall under cultural relativism.
In India more than 40% of girls married before the age of 15, which clearly shows how the UDHR is violated and the girls have to give up their education to start having children and they do not have a say whatsoever.
Child marriage is most common in Niger, Central African Republic, South Sudan.
Effects of child marriage on girls
Child marriage affects girls in many ways. Girls who marry early are denied their childhood. Once married, these girls have little or no access to education and economic opportunities, and they and their families are more likely to live in poverty. Child brides also are expected to have children, so they face a high risk of experiencing dangerous complications in pregnancy, contracting HIV, and suffering domestic and sexual violence by their husbands. Child marriage is a harmful practice that deprives girls of their right to choose when, and whom to marry and what type of family to create. It also deprives girls of their rights to education, to health, and to live in security. They can't choose their own future and they are dependent on their husband.
Shows how child marriage can impact a girls health drastically by causing HIV.
This picture shows how child marriage can impact a child's education. Most girls that get married young are illiterate and will most likely stay illiterate because they will have to take on wife roles such as cleaning and motherhood and would not have any time to get an education.
Due to child marriage, young girls are having to give birth to a child which they are not physically or even mentally prepared for and physically their bodies cannot handle it, therefore causing high fertility rates for the unborn child.
This picture demonstrates how harmful child marriage can be for a child bride because the girls have to give birth at such a young age and their bodies are not ready for that type of pressure, their bodies give up and death can occur.
Effects Upon Communities and Nations
Not only are the brides affected by child marriage but also the communities and nations feel the impact of child marriage. Countries undervalue the participation of girls and women which limit the women's own growth in education or the workforce which eventually leads to poverty and keeps the country from prospering.
Affects how women are viewed on a whole. They are viewed as second -class, behind men.
Child Marriage Violating the UDHR
Some of the articles from UDHR that are being violated by this practice are article 1 (we are all born free and equal), article 3 (the right to life), article 28( a fair and free world), and article 16 (marriage and family). In countries where people practice child marriage, girls face inequality and they lack freedom. Also they are not safe there because they are forced to marry and they can experience domestic violence. Girls are deprived of their rights because they marry young , they can't choose whom to marry and they marry without full consent.
Plan to Action
If the practice of child marriage continues, many more girls are going to become victims of becoming child brides and have very serious effects on their physical and mental health. Please consider reintroducing the "International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act" because the aid that the act provides will help girls succeed in life and escape from marrying young and not having a choice. To further explain, the aid that we should provide these countries include: providing assistance to faith based or nongovernmental organizations and to promote education by enrolling girls in primary and secondary schools, ensuring girls have access to health care services, creating safe social spaces for girls (peer support).
Many different strategies can help end child marriage. Making education more accessible can be efficient in helping girls to understand the opportunities that they have and can achieve instead of getting married at an inappropriate age and relying on their husbands. By keeping girls in school for longer than just the primary level, their need to get married will become delayed. In addition, if women develop a firm belief that child marriage is unnecessary, they will most likely pass this belief down to their future children which will result in a decrease in child marriage. A common reason that women are not allowed to attend school is because money saved for them is saved for their dowry instead of their education. Most often, the family would rather pay for a son to attend school instead of a daughter. Creating more opportunities for women can help change the cultural norms where saving money for a dowry is more important than for education. This can be done by making it easier for families to afford education fees. In addition, other opportunities that can decrease child marriage include skills training, savings clubs, and job placement services.
If secondary education was provided it would help eliminate half of all child marriages.
U.N. Sustainability Development Goals
Ending child marriage would help to achieve some of the U.N.'s sustainability development goals. One of the goals is reduction of poverty in all its forms everywhere. Poor families often see marriage as a way to benefit economically, however girls who marry young are more likely to be poor and stay poor which doesn’t lead to the end of poverty. Ending child marriage may help achieve the poverty reduction because then girls could get education and wouldn’t marry when they are under 18. Another goal that would be impacted if child marriage was reduced would be a goal to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Girls would then get educated, which would increase girl’s potential. Everyone then could have an equal learning opportunities. Also, it would help to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Automatically women will gain more equality and it would also empower them. They will get education, they wouldn’t be forced to marry, they could choose their own future.
The cycle of child marriage. If something is not changed, it will never end because it is continuous.