Why Child Marriage Is a Civil Rights Issue By: Grace stone

Child marriage is when one of the two people in a formal marriage are underage. Although there are strict laws against it, child marriage is still occurring today in developing countries. Children, especially girls, are married off to secure the future of their family. Over “700 million women alive today were married before the age of 18.” (About Child Marriage). This inhumane treatment of children is the product of gender inequality and low income. If a child cannot work or get an education, they are more likely to be subjected to child marriage. Underage marriage can lead to dropping out of school to assume household responsibilities, which in turn increases the amount of illiterate and uneducated people in the population. Society must work together to prevent and end child marriage.

Unfortunately, child marriage is still a Civil Rights issue today. Child marriage is a Civil Rights issue, because it deprives children who are being married off of their voice, and puts them in a dangerous and potentially abusive situation. It also forces children to drop out of school and not focus on their education, or their future. In developing countries, “one in every three girls is married before reaching age 18.” (Child Marriage). The legal marriage age is put into place for a reason. Too many girls and boys alike are being forced into relationships by their families without their consent. Also, each year “15 million girls are married before the age of 18. That is 28 every minute. 1 every two seconds.” (About Child Marriage). This is a clearly a problem because a disturbing amount of underage girls are married off to men who can be far older than them. The right to choose who you marry and when you want to do so is a right, and should not be forced upon anyone.

Child marriage can be compared to the oppression of Blacks and African Americans in the 1950’s. Child marriage is “fueled by gender inequality, poverty, traditions, and insecurity.” (About Child Marriage). Girls in many areas of the world today are treated like burdens and seen as so. In developing countries where it is a common practice to marry off girls, families use marriage as an opportunity to have one less mouth to feed. Girls are also viewed as lesser than boys, and a dowry that is exchanged for a daughter’s hand in marriage can be used to pay a son’s education. In the 1950’s, Blacks and African Americans were also seen as inferior and treated as such. Nearly “100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans in Southern states still inhabited a starkly unequal world of disenfranchisement, segregation and various forms of oppression, including race-inspired violence.” (Civil Rights Movement). Clearly, the mistreatment of girls in developing countries is similar to the Civil Rights era because of the oppression of Blacks and African Americans.

Although some may say that they are similar, others may say that child marriage is different than the oppression of Blacks in the 1960’s. It took some time, but the Civil Rights movement quickly picked up pace after people began to see how cruel the treatment of Blacks was. However, the same cannot be said for child marriage. Despite “setting a goal of ending child marriage in Bangladesh by 2041, Sheikh Hasina has also proposed legislation that would lower the age of marriage for girls to 16 from the current age of 18.” (Varia, Nisha). Many governments in developing countries promise to change laws about underage marriage, but in reality, they will do nothing about it. Although there are protests today for child marriage, none of them can be compared to the Civil Rights protests, such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycott “lasted more than a year, demonstrating the unity and determination of Black residents and inspiring Blacks everywhere.” (Civil Rights Movement). Clearly, child marriage is different from the Civil Rights era because not much action has been taken yet to prevent it.

If enough people can contribute to the cause, child marriage can be stopped. This can be done by “empowering girls, mobilizing families and communities, providing services and establishing and implementing laws and policies.” (About Child Marriage). Politicians, “governments, civil society, and other partners must work together to ensure girls have access to education, health information and services, and life-skills training.” (Child Marriage). Several of the many organizations that are currently working to end child marriage are Breakthrough, Girls Not Brides, the UNFPA, CARE, and Forward. If the kind of mentality that child marriage is acceptable is diminished, women and men alike will be more equal, and that makes all the difference. In conclusion, child marriage is a civil rights issue, because it is taking away the rights of children, and their potential to succeed in life.

Works Cited:

"About Child Marriage." Girls Not Brides. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. <http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/about-child-marriage/>.

"Child Marriage." United Nations Population Fund. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. <http://www.unfpa.org/child-marriage>.

History.com Staff. "Civil Rights Movement." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. <http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/civil-rights-movement>.

Varia, Nisha. "Ending Child Marriage." Human Rights Watch. N.p., 27 Jan. 2016. Web. 23 Mar. 2017. <https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2016/ending-child-marriage>.

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.