I have a minor obsession with all things wedding. Although I am never happy to find myself up at 2 a.m. on a Sunday prior to work, I am usually secretly happy to binge on back to back episodes of My Fair Wedding, a show about a wedding planner who takes over the planning for ceremonies that are suffering from a lack of funds, absence of taste, and/or cooperative family members and turns them into “dream weddings.” This fixation may go back to the time when I ended up abandoning the years and years worth of bridal magazines that had stacked up in my belongings and chose to have a small (but lovely) wedding on the Brooklyn Promenade in New York City, wearing a dress I had bought from Casual Corner instead of a fancy bridal store.
Even though some of the trappings of my wedding were not precisely what I had dreamed about, the important thing is that I was 27 years old, had had an opportunity to spend almost three years living in New York City, had the economic means to support myself if I needed to, had access to an array of options for family planning, and was marrying my best friend, someone who respected me and loved me.
For approximately 10 million girls under the age of 18 every year, their marriages do not take place by choice. According to CARE, in many countries around the world, girls are socialized to be wives and mothers. Their education isn’t prioritized and they aren’t allowed to express their opinions in public places, or even leave their homes without permission. Often, these girls are married by the time they are 12 or 14, and are expected to start having children at the age of 16.
This October 11, on the International Day of the Girl, I am joining other bloggers to share information about child marriage and encourage my readers to learn about this epidemic and take action.
The facts about this epidemic should stop every one of us in our tracks. To identify a few:
- One in seven girls is married before her 15th birthday and some child brides are as young as eight or nine
- Girls younger than 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than those in their twenties
- Child brides are twice as likely to be beaten by their husbands
If you do have time for more, I would like to share this image of Tume:
(Photo Credit: 2010 Justine Bettinger/CARE)
According to CARE, Tume Mida was just 10 years old when she was forced to marry a 22-year-old man in the region of Borena in Ethiopia. Child marriage at such a young age in rural Ethiopia is not unusual.
Tume is in charge of all household chores including cooking and cleaning for her husband. Because of these responsibilities, she is unable to go to school, almost guaranteeing her and her future children a lifetime of poverty.
No girl, in any corner of the world, should be deprived of the ability to freely and fully consent to marry. Anything less is a clear violation of human rights.
There are simple things we can all do to help this situation:
- Figure out what you know (and don’t!) by taking this quiz on child marriage. Share your score on Facebook and Twitter and ask others to do the same.
- Add the “End Child Marriage” social badge to your Twitter and/or Facebook profile photos. You can do that by clicking here.
- Tweet about child marriage using the hashtags #unite4girls and #endchildmarriage and ask your followers to do the same. Here’s a sample tweet: