Imagine a world where you or your child is given away at the age of 7 to be prepared for marriage. Not a fake marriage where little girls and boys dress up and pretend to become husband and wife, but a marriage that is accepted by everyone from your culture. In America, this practice can leave a person as a registered sex offender and destroy their entire life. This remains to not be true for many other countries. Although child marriage is illegal in most countries, their are many countries that are marrying off their little girl despite the laws. More then 10 million innocent children are being forced into marriage. Children as young as pre-school are being prepared to marry men in their 30's 40's or older. It is estimated that over 100 million girls will be married within the next 10 years. The problems do not just end at marriage; in fact, sometimes the nightmare for these precious girls are just beginning. After marriage, many child brides are physically, sexually and emotionally abuse. There are shocking pictures that revealed young brides who have been traumatized so much that their faces are left contorted and ruined. These young girls are seen not as human beings, but as property.
If all of this was not enough, pregnancy is a huge issue that evolves from becoming a bride at such a young age. When a child gets pregnant, many times this is life threatening to both them and their unborn child. Children are twice as likely to die from childbirth under the age of 20. Pregnancy related deaths are the leading cause of children between the ages of 15 and 19 worldwide. The rate of death or complications for a pregnant child bride is 75% higher than for a woman who has a body that has matured. When a young girl becomes pregnant very early on, their is a high risk of mortality between the mother and child. This is primarily due to the fact that their bodies are not mature enough to carry a baby.
Other issues include, contracting diseases such as HIV and children being forced to leave school and remaining illiterate. Not having an education puts these children at risk for never having a proper job and in most cases, stuck in a marriage that they did not consent to. Many children who are living this lifestyle try to escape and some do, only to find themselves caught up in prostitution scandals. And with little to no education, these young girls do not know where to turn or how to survive.
There has been a lot of information learned throughout the years about this tragic situation, sadly the epidemic continues. It will take decades to fix the problems that are currently happening to young girls (and some young boys). Unfortunately, today is no different. Right now as we speak, some innocent child is being forced to hand over her baby doll and being prepared to marry.
"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (Matthew 19:14)."
"Too young to wed"
Written By: Te-Shandra Haskett, MBA