Child marriage is defined as the marriage of a person under the age of 18. Around the world, approximately 700 million women around the world today were married as girls; a third of them were married before their 15th birthdays.
These numbers are staggering, but hearing the stories from the child brides, themselves, makes what they’re going through a reality.
When a girl is married off, her rights are stripped (if she had any to begin with). Often married to men twice their age, they are swiftly taken to bed and impregnated, left raising a child while still children themselves.
“Motherhood is hard. When [babies] get sick, you don’t know why. I don’t have experience and don’t know what to do with him, probably because of my age. I sleep very little,” a 14-year-old wife and mother told the New York Times.
Once married, girls have no chance of going back to school. Their days are spent doing chores and taking care of the children. Any chance for a girl to learn to read and write is stripped as well.
Child marriage is defined differently in different countries, but it is usually prevalent in countries with high poverty or places that are technologically developing.
India has the most child brides, more than 10 million, followed by Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Brazil. Bangladesh has more than 2 million child brides, despite the legal minimum age of marriage being 18. The marriages are made illegally, as the law is rarely enforced.
According to a Human Rights Watch report, “global data shows that girls from the poorest 20 percent of families are twice as likely to marry before 18 as girls whose families are among the richest 20 percent.”
These are horrible and staggering numbers, but worse is the way the girls are treated. To have their lives taken away; it is abhorrent. We can do everything in our power to end child marriage around the world.