As we try to understand various cultures around the world, and at the same time find that children as young as six-eight years old are being wedded by grown men it amazes me that the world still tolerates this form of culture. Traditions of the old cast need revising. The modern-day society has advanced beyond the ancient acceptance that a girl is nothing more than a means to families collaborating based upon the old ways.
Child marriage spans continents, language, religion, caste. In India the girls will typically be attached to boys four or five years older; in Yemen, Afghanistan, and other countries with high early marriage rates, the husbands may be young men or middle-aged widowers or abductors who rape first and claim their victims as wives afterward, as is the practice in certain regions of Ethiopia. Some of these marriages are business transactions, barely adorned with additional rationale: a debt cleared in exchange for an 8-year-old bride; a family feud resolved by the delivery of a virginal 12-year-old cousin. Those, when they happen to surface publicly, make for clear and outrage-inducing news fodder from great distances away. The 2008 drama of Nujood Ali, the 10-year-old Yemeni girl who found her way alone to an urban courthouse to request a divorce from the man in his 30s her father had forced her to marry, generated worldwide headlines and more recently a book, translated into 30 languages: I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced.
Child marriages may have many purposes. The aristocracy of some cultures tend to use child marriage among different factions or states as a method to secure political ties between them. For example, the son or daughter of the royal family of a weaker power would sometimes be arranged to marry into the royal family of a stronger neighbouring power, thus preventing itself from being assimilated. In the lower classes, if they were fortunate, families could use child marriages as means to gain financial ties with wealthier people, ensuring their successions.
In child betrothals, a child’s parents arrange a match with the parents of a child from another family (social standing, wealth and expected education all play a part), thus unilaterally determining the child’s future at a young age. It is thought by adherents that physical attraction is not a suitable foundation upon which to build a marriage and a family. A separate consideration is the age at which the wedding, as opposed to the engagement, takes place.
No matter what the differences are between the Wedding date and the Engagement date a committment has been made by the parents, and the Child has lost its’ freedom of choice! The sins of the parents are upon the children, who are sold or promised to another human being for personal gain is nothing more than Parental slavery!
- Adolescent clubs empower young girls to resist early marriage in India (matthewzavoras.wordpress.com)