Early Marriages Are Bad Practice


Published in Cape May County Herald. :Today, many countries have declared 18 as the legal minimum age for marriage, while these laws may exist on paper only. We should remember that high levels of early marriages have led to a rise in maternal and infant mortality throughout the world. Early marriage has always been an important issue throughout women’s history.

Early marriage is one of the worst things against girls and children. Early marriage can have several harmful effects on the overall wellbeing of a young girl, or child, who is not mentally, psychologically, emotionally or physically prepared for a conjugal life.

In many countries, men retain far greater power than women. There is recognition that women lack power in the decision-making process. According to United Nations Population Fund, “Between 2011 and 2020, more than 140 million girls will become child brides. If current levels of child marriages hold, 14.2 million girls annually, or 39,000 daily, will marry too young. Furthermore, of the 140 million girls who will marry before the age of 18, 50 million will be under the age of 15.”

UNICEF estimates stillbirths and newborn deaths are 50 percent higher among mothers under the age of 20 than in women who get pregnant in their 20s. According to the UN, "Of 16 million adolescent girls who give birth every year, about 90 per cent are already married."

As shown by these statistics, marriage at an early age is still a common practice in many countries. We must remember each society has special characteristics that make it desirable for specific rights for our children and girls. It damages girls’ economic rights.

For the same reason, most girls have early pregnancies. As a result, child marriage became a more dangerous practice because of early sexual relationship and lower responsibility, mortality (deaths) increased. Emphasis should, therefore, be laid on launching awareness campaigns in those areas where this practice is common.

"The tradition of marrying off daughters as young as 6 is still common," reports the U.N. Population Fund. "Child marriage is an appalling violation of human rights and robs girls of their education, health and long-term prospects," stated Babatunde Osotimehin, M.D, executive director, UNFPA.

Early marriage also has destroyed our values. In a child’s life, education, training, and good health services are important, but child marriage is a major rights violation.

Greater investments in education and employment for girls and children are some of the much-needed interventions to encourage later marriage. Not only should all women have a choice in the decision making process of marriage, but they must have the right to express their sexuality without risk of disease or discrimination.

As played out in many rural areas, women in the developing world attain status only through marriage and producing as many children as possible, preferably, sons. Girls and women should have a say in the decision-making process of marriage.

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