SAY “NO” TO EARLY CHILD MARRIAGES:

SAY “NO” TO EARLY CHILD MARRIAGES:

Introduction: Child Marriage: Early marriage, or child marriage, is defined as the marriage or union between two people in which one or both parties are younger than 18 years of age. Parents often feel that a young girl is an economic burden and therefore wish to marry off their young daughters before they become an

Introduction:

Child Marriage:

Early marriage, or child marriage, is defined as the marriage or union between two people in which one or both parties are younger than 18 years of age. Parents often feel that a young girl is an economic burden and therefore wish to marry off their young daughters before they become an economic liability.

Child Marriage is a Slavery:

Child marriage can be referred to as slavery, if one or more of the following elements are present:

  • I the child has not genuinely given their free and informed consent to enter the marriage.
  • If the child is subjected to control and a sense of “ownership” in the marriage itself, particularly through abuse and threats and is exploited by being forced to undertake domestic chores within the marital home or labour outside it, and/or engage in non-consensual sexual relations.
  • If the child cannot realistically leave or end the marriage, leading potentially to a lifetime of slavery.

There has been growing awareness about the negative consequences of child marriage, especially for girls, including the impact of marriage on children’s education and risks to their physical and psychological health.

It should be noted that many marriages involving children will not amount to slavery, particularly between couples aged 16 to 18 years. However, child marriage can also obscure what are actually cases of slavery or slavery-like practices.

How Early Marriage is bad?

Child marriage ends childhood. It negatively influences children’s rights to education, health and protection. These consequences impact not just the girl directly, but also her family and community. A girl who is married as a child is more likely to be out of school and not earn money and contribute to the community.

Disadvantages of child Marriages:

Child marriage is driven by poverty and has many effects on girls’ health: increased risk for sexually transmitted diseases, cervical cancer, malaria, death during childbirth, and obstetric fistulas. Girls’ offspring are at increased risk for premature birth and death as neonates, infants, or children.

Early marriage is a harmful practice that denies girls their right to make vital decisions about their sexual health and well-being. It forces them out of education and into a life of poor prospects, with an increased risk of violence, abuse, ill health or early death.

Affects of Early Child Marriages on Girls Health:

Early marriage is harmful, Girls married early are more likely to experience violence, abuse and forced sexual relations due to unequal power relations, here we will discuss some points that shows the affects of early marriage;

1. Mental Health:

Child marriage encourages sexual activity among girls who are not yet physically or psychologically ready to deal with childbirth. In addition, girls who marry young often live in rural or remote

communities with limited access to sexual and reproductive health education, including access to contraceptives.

2. Early Pregnancies:

Early pregnancy is one of the most dangerous causes and consequences of this harmful practice. 90% of births to adolescents take place within the context of marriage.

Complications arising from pregnancy and childbirth are among the leading causes of death in girls aged 15-19. Girls who marry before age 15 are 50% more likely to suffer from intimate partner violence than those who marry later. Child brides are also more vulnerable to other pregnancy-related injuries such as obstetric fistula, which can have devastating long-term consequences, especially if left untreated. In fact, 65% of all obstetric fistula cases occur in girls under 18.

3. Infant Mortality:

Pregnancy at a young age not only has potentially devastating effects for mothers but also for their newborns. According to Girls Not Brides, stillbirths and newborn deaths are 50% higher in mothers younger than 20 years old. In low and middle income countries, babies born to mothers under 20 years of age also face higher risks of low birthweight, preterm delivery, and severe neonatal conditions.

4. Domestic Violence:

When it comes to child marriage, parents often believe they are doing what is best for their daughters by marrying them off early, believing that their new husbands will provide safety and economic security. However, girls who marry before the age of 15 are almost 50% more likely to have experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner than girls who married after 18. In addition, child brides are more likely to describe their first sexual experience as forced.

5. HIV or AIDS:

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and AIDS stands for Acquired immune Deficiency Syndrome. Firstly, child brides often live in remote regions where access to healthcare and information about sexual health services and rights may be limited. As a result, child brides may not have knowledge of HIV risk factors, prevention, treatment or even their basic human right to say “no” to sex with their husbands.

Furthermore, girls are sometimes married off to older men who will have already had and may continue to have numerous sexual partners, which can also increase risk, especially in regions where the virus in more prevalent.

6. GBV:

In early child marriage gender based violence is experienced which in results causes death in several cases. Child marriage is internationally recognised in law as a form of gender-based violence. Both are human rights violations. Child marriage puts girls and women at increased risk of sexual, physical, and psychological violence and related outcomes throughout their lives.

GBV includes rapes and sexual assault, commercial sexual exploitation, harmful practices such as female genital mutilation,  forced marriages etc.

Early Marriages Impact on Society:

The largest impacts in terms of economic costs are through fertility and population growth. Child marriage leads girls to have children earlier and more children over their lifetime. This in turns reduces the ability of households to meet their basic needs, and thereby contributes to poverty.

Consequences of Child Marriage:

Child marriage effectively ends a girl’s childhood, curtails her education, minimizes her economic opportunities, increases her risk of domestic violence, and puts her at risk for early, frequent, and very high-risk pregnancies.

Early Marriages Impact on Education:

In both regions, there are significant gaps in schooling outcomes also by the timing of early marriage. For example, the difference on years of education for women who married before age 15 is 38–39% that of women who married at 18 or older and similarly literacy rates are 33% and 47% lower.

Ways to End Early Marriages:

  • Educating girls, as you know education plays a c

Great role in keeping girls safe from child marriage.

  • Empowering girls, Rallying the wider community to stand up for girls’ rights.
  • Providing girls and their families with income opportunities, so that family won’t feel that having a daughter is a burden or they are not enough financially stable.
  • Petitioning government and encouraging supportive laws.
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