According to the Washington post, “Every year, 14 million girls around the world become child brides, that is about 38,000 new brides everyday.”
In many societies, marriage is a celebrated institution and a promise of life-long fidelity between two adults. Nevertheless, in some parts of the world, it is an entirely different ball game.
- One in three girls in the developing world is married before the age of 18 and the developed world doesn't exonerate itself from these issues;
- Every year hundreds of young girls and women in Canada enter forced or arranged marriages;
- Many of these marriages actually take place abroad, out of reach of the Canadian legal system.
Despite being prohibited by international human rights law and many national laws, child marriage continues to rob millions of girls of their childhood, into a life of poor prospects.
Some consequences of child marriage are:
- Death from pregnancy or child birth;
- Likelihood of marital rape;
- No equal partners in marriage and
- The hope of education is lost.
Child marriage is most common in the developing world. However, victims and citizens are beginning to amplify this global scourge.
Below are brief summaries on cases in Yemen and Nigeria.
According to a 2010 report by Yemen's Social Affairs Ministry:
“One-quarter of all girls are married before they turn 15 and one-half before the age of 18.”
Similarly, the International Centre for Research on Women Records revealed in a study that 48.9% of Yemeni females were married before the age of 18.
In 2008, a courageous 10 year old,Nurjood Ali did something unprecedented and started a revolution in her country; “She became Yemen's most famous divorcee”.
She fought her forced marriage in court and was granted a divorce, thereby paving a way for other young girls to speak out.
Nada al-Ahdal's story…
11 year old Nada's story at the very least reflects a depressing reality. She told her story on a three minute online video which revealed an alleged attempt by her parents to forcibly marry her to an older man.
Meanwhile, Nada's uncle, Abdulsalam al-Ahdal, who took her in said negative reactions to Nada's complaints are by people who use to religion to justify child marriage.
“There wasn't a problem. The whole family knows she is strong and brave, and that this is a decision that she has taken for her future.”
“Nada is saying that she has a choice – she doesn't want to be with her mother under these circumstances. If they force her, she will run away again, or she says she will commit suicide.”
According to UNICEF, 39% of Nigerian girls currently marry before the age of 18.
What transpired in the Nigerian senate chamber recently was a great cause for concern for millions of Nigerians all over the world.
A Senate vote over a constitutional amendment has sparked new concerns for child brides.
A seemingly uninteresting and unimportant debate about when and at what age a Nigerian citizen could legitimately renounce his/her citizenship turned into a referendum on paedophilia.
It specified that females should be considered fully of age regardless of their actual age if they are married.
At the start, senators introduced an amendment to remove this language and set 18 to be the lawful age.
The amendment initially passed, but was reconsidered and voted down after Senator Amhed Sani Yerima, argued that it conflicted with Islamic law.
This is an era in which the girl child refuses to be seen as the world's forgotten population.
With more education, globalisation and development, there is hope for the girl child than there ever was. There is also an increased anticipation that this will come in the soonest possible time.