Child marriage is now widely recognized as a violation of the basic children’s right. The legal adult age known to humanity and in many countries is 18, which we also assume to be a stage where teenagers can make certain decisions on their own; part of which is their readiness to marriage and all others. But even at this stipulated date, many parents believe getting married at this age is below limit as regard an adolescence maturity in term of home and family care. They also believe that a young girl of that age has little or no knowledge in raising and building a happy home. While child marriage can happen or be enforced to both sexes, the adverse effect it has on a girl child is more when compared to their male counterpart.
The consequences of child marriage should be well communicated to all and sundry, as little children are often regarded as the hope of every nation and also the leaders of tomorrow. These popular belief appears to be going off the rail on a daily basis as these aspiring leaders of tomorrow are being forced to marriage in their early days. While these could be from the logical thinking perspective of an ordinary man who believes in the concept of humanity as regard doing what is right. A large number of people still engage in the practice of giving out their young girl out for marriage where in most cases, the age gaps of the said groom stretches up to 20; and more than 30 in some cases like a recent one in Nigeria.
However, certain circumstances where the need to prepare a girl-child for marriage before she attain adulthood may arise. Part of which is early unwanted pregnancies. Some African nations most especially; Nigeria, give out their young daughters for marriage when pregnancy is involved. Some even went as far as not claiming the dowry when such unforeseen circumstance occurs.
Below are some of the important causes that lead parents to deliberately allow their underage children for marriage.
- Poor Family Status: Girls from poor households are mostly victims of child marriage. Girl bride occurs in such situation when the family can no longer maintain their daughters and other siblings financially. For poor parents in most cases, this interprets that there is one less child to feed every day and one less child to provide financial backups for. They “sell out” their young girls, mostly to rich men who they consider being capable of enriching their family… financially.
- Certain belief to marry off a girl at a very young age in order to respect some certain traditions is another major cause. Some term it as “bringing respect and honour to the family”. They offer their daughter out for marriage at an age which they believe the virginity is still secure. Not sure about other nations, but in Africa virginity is a pride. Parents believe their girl-child may get involved in some dirty acts if given more chance to grow till a suitable marital age.
- Some religious group are of the fact that marriage to an underage girl is in line with their doctrine. Several references are quoted to back this claims by those who believe and practise the act. There is no confirmation as regard this claim as at the time of writing this article. Arzy Kaya Uranli has something to say about this here though.
The deadly effects and consequences of Child Marriage
Deprivation of the right to education
It is a known fact that education has being a vital teammate which fosters the development of every child in every community and in every nation. However, a young girl is forced out of school when married out prematurely. In other way, a young girl with bright prospects is being denied her right of becoming who she chooses to be.
Denial to social lives
Waiting more years before marriage open them to several opportunities, which among others are: skill acquisitions and more earnings that equally could set them up financially for a long time. The youthful experience of a young girl is forcefully erased.
About 20 out of 100 young girls offered for marriage at an early age suffers in the hand of the man they are being married to. Most of them complained of being turned into slavery while several other amenities needed were not provided.
Especially during child-birth; when a little girl still lack the strength needed to handle the rigors and pain that comes with such critical moment.
Controlling the expansion of Child Marriage
Having stated the consequences of child marriage, below are some recommendations to reduce; if not forestall the situation.
- The bad consequences of child marriage should be made known to parents of young girls as well as the general public. We can only guess that the few parents who sell out their young girls for marriage are doing this on a deliberate basis. No confirmed prove however. We should assume these parents are not aware of the deadly consequences, therefore – parents should be dully educated on the deadly consequences of child marriage.
- Young girls should be educated and empowered with skills and information. The right time; which is after the attainment of certain degrees should be communicated as the most suitable time to consider marriage.
- Basic economic supports should be provided by the government of nations where the practices of child marriage dominates. Poverty support schemes should be channel to areas where such helping hands are needed.
- Still on government intervention, laws should be made to prosecute offenders. There has been laws regarding this in some countries though, which are yet to be enforced. Such country includes Afghanistan, which according to their Civil law (article 40), the legal marital age for women is 16. Even at this not so convenient legal age declaration, some of its citizens still violates by forcefully dragging innocent girls below 15 into marriage with older men.
If for one thing, the evil consequences of child marriage should be considered. Parents are endeavoured to respect and support the decision of their children. As far as everyone is concerned, no benefit has being stated regarding encouraging child marriage but the deadly consequences that surrounds it.