Child Brides Still Exist

Most of us, women, are fortunate enough to remember our childhood as years full of children’s books, playgrounds and imaginary friends. We are the majority that can say that childhood was not the time we got married, with that said, there are still young girls who do become child brides. Many people seem to be under the impression that child marriages do not exist anymore, that they have been completely eliminated and are a thing of the past, but contrary to popular belief that is not exactly the case.

The biggest reason child brides exist today is because sending the girl off to her husband’s family saves the girl’s family a lot of money. Child marriages are more likely to occur in places where family poverty rates are high.. According to International Center for Research on Women, “More than half of the girls in Bangladesh, Mali, Mozambique and Niger are married before age 18. In these same countries, more than 75 percent of people live on less than $2 a day.” Another reason child brides still exist is because many cultures and societies consider a non-virgin bride to be unfit or ruined for marriage, so marrying the girl young prevents her from making “the big mistake”.

Many communities still think that education for a woman is pointless, and therefore marriage is an act of security. The Girls Not Brides global partnership has an objective of educating these communities and making people more open-minded to destroy these gender roles. In India, a girl cannot marry before the age of 18, while a boy cannot marry before the age of 21. Although this Child Marriage Act was passed to decrease the number of child marriages, the law still implies inequality.

A National Geographic article, written by Cynthia Gorney in June 2011, shed light on the secret world of child brides that still exists despite laws prohibiting child marriages in India. Three young girls in Rajasthan were married off in the secrecy of the night to grown men from a nearby village; one girl was 15, another was 13 and the youngest was 5.

India is one of the numerous places where young girls are sworn into marriage despite laws prohibiting such acts. In Niger, the number one ranked country as a Child Marriage Hot Spot, 75 percent of girls are married before they turn 18.  Child marriages can lead to sexual abuse, internal family violence and depression; there have been cases of young girls experiencing sexual trauma because their bodies were not prepared or were not matured for intercourse. 

Every girl should have the opportunity to live her childhood with toys and playgrounds without worrying about marriage and wife-like duties. Raising awareness and informing people that the practice of child marriages is still alive can help these girls live their childhood years as children, rather than adults. Her Campus VCU is partnering with Heart to Soul in Action to raise awareness for this problem. For more information about Heart to Soul in Action and their #NoChildBrides campaign click here.