Child marriage is a violation of human rights but is all too common.
Marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of human rights. Many factors interact to place a child at risk of marriage. They include poverty; the perception that marriage will provide ‘protection’; family honor; social norms; customary or religious laws that condone the practice; an inadequate legislative framework; and the state of a country’s civil registration system.
While the practice is more common among girls than boys, it is a violation of rights regardless of sex. As you might already know, violations come with repercussions. We’ll be discussing below, the effects of early marriage on our society.
Check out some of the effects of child marriage:
Educational Effects of Child Marriage
Child marriage often means the end of a girl’s formal education. Girls tend to drop out of school during the preparatory time before the marriage or shortly after. Her new role of wife or mother often comes with the responsibility to take care of the home, the children and the extended family.
When a girl is out of school she becomes vulnerable to child marriage. Many girls aren’t in school because schools are inaccessible or expensive. Or because parents don’t see the value of education. Girls who have no education are three times as likely to marry by 18 compared to girls with higher education.
There are practical and legal obstacles to married girls’ way back to school. Girls who live far or have children to look after may not be able to resume their education. Sometimes, the stigma of pregnancy keeps girls from returning to school. Some societies also forbid pregnant girls and young mothers from returning to school.
Health Effects Of Child Marriage
Boy In Hospital Gown About To Get An Injection. Shot in studio over white with the Canon 2D.
Complications in pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in girls aged 15-19 globally. 90% of adolescent pregnancies are to girls who are already married. When a mother is under 20, her child is 50 percent more likely to be stillborn or die within its first weeks of life than a baby born to an older mother.
Child marriage encourages the initiation of sexual activity at an early age. When girls’ bodies are still developing and when they know little about their rights or their sexual and reproductive health. Child brides face higher risks of death in childbirth. They are particularly vulnerable to pregnancy-related injuries such as obstetric fistula . Once married, girls face intense social pressure to prove their fertility. As a result, they are more likely to experience frequent and early pregnancies. This may cause a range of long-term health complications and, in some cases, death.
More than 50% of girls from the poorest families married as children. Girls from poor families are more than three times more likely to marry before 18 as girls from wealthier families. Child brides are more likely to be poor and to remain poor. Where poverty is acute, giving a daughter in marriage allows parents to reduce their expenses: one less person to feed, clothe and educate. Girls who marry young are less likely to receive the education they need to live a healthy and empowered life. Without an education, they are less able to earn an income to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. By not marrying early and staying in school, a girl is more likely to be healthier and wealthier.
Violence Against Girls
Child marriage exposes girls to intimate partner violence , including sexual, physical, psychological and emotional violence. Girls who marry before 18 are more likely to face violence from an intimate partner throughout their life. The greater the age difference with their husbands, the more likely they are to experience violence. Girls who marry before the age of 15 are almost 50% more likely to have experienced violence from a partner.
Child brides are more likely to describe their first sexual experience as forced. These girls are more likely to contract HIV. Also, they are often under a lot of pressure from their husbands and families. It keeps them from making their own decisions about their lives and bodies. Sexual violence and early pregnancy also have lasting effects on girls’ mental health.
Resource: Girls Not Brides
This article was first published on AfricaParent.com