Let's Talk About "Child Marriage"
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“Giving birth to a child while myself being a child was the most painful experience of my life,” said Rubina, a woman from Pakistan who had been married at 12 years old. She was interviewed by the team of Girls Not Brides – The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, on this website (http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/girls-voices/rubinas-story-pakistan/). Before we get to the causes and the impact of child marriage, I think we should learn about the meaning.
Child marriage, also known as early marriage, is defined as “[A]ny marriage carried out below the age of 18 years, before the girl is physically, physiologically, and psychologically ready to shoulder the responsibilities of marriage and childbearing. (http://www.unfpa.org/upload/lib_pub_file/662_filename_endchildmarriage.pdf)
Based on the Rubina's statement and the meaning of “child marriage,” this kind of case is absolutely bad physically and mentally for the child. In some countries which are very strict with the word “tradition,” and if people have faith that if they didn’t do what the community always does for many years, it means they are not the part of the community. If child marriage is the common practice in a community, the people in there must be able to do practice their tradition. Even though the practice of child marriage has occurred to both boys and girls in many countries, communities, religions, child marriage is most commonly experienced by by girls. It’s all about the faith of “The Role of Gender.” In some countries and communities, girls are seen as a burden who are not allowed to go to school and should stay at home to help their mom and learn to be a mother and a wife. Another cause of child marriage is, “poverty.” When parents are not able to care or pay for their children's needs, they will decide to marry their children in order to get the dowry or ‘bride price’.
For me, anything that is “forced” will always negatively affect those who had been forced, including children forced into child marriages. Children, especially girls, who are not yet ready to handle the responsibility as a wife and mother will always be negatively affected from this practice. Girls are more likely to die during childbirth and at the first time of sex. Girls also have no access to go to school which lead them to the ignorance and poverty. In this case, their husbands often acts rudely toward them because girls can’t do their household jobs perfectly. Poverty has also been the cause of carelessness of health. When the educated or wealthy people are able to check up on their health continuously or at the doctor, the poor people prefer to work everyday in order to get the money. I think, this habit will lead them infected by many bacteria and viruses, including HIV/ AIDS.
Luckily in my country, Indonesia, most parents know that child marriage is something wrong for children. It’s proven by a case from Indonesia. A 43 year old man who known as Syech Puji, married a 12 year old girl named Ulfa in 2008. Ulfa consequently dropped out of her school. Rumor says that Ulfa’s parents allowed her to marry because Syech Puji was a wealthy businessman who certainly could provide for Ulfa’s needs. However, when this case spread among the Indonesian people, there were many movements and protests against what Syech Puji and Ulfa’s parents had done. They case went to court and they named Syech Puji a suspect for breaching the child protection law. Most Indonesian people believe that education is the most important thing in this life. Even when a family suffers from poverty, the parents will always work harder to fund their family, and especially their children. They believe "our children must be better than us.”
I really recommend you watch this video if you want to know more about “child marriage” and the story from the victims (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYleXcpbzKY). I also really want to know about other child marriage stories from your country, so kindly share it with me and the other readers. Thank You.