‘No, I will not marry at this age’, shouted the teen on her parents in the show, which I was watching.
I was amazed why at this age her parents are forcing her to marry and that when her elder sister who also was in her early teens died recently. Well, she died because of the baby she carried at the age of thirteen. A night before her delivery she developed a stomach pain and died instantly.
Can anyone explain why she had to carry a baby at such a tender age? Why she had to marry off when she was 12? Certainly, no one could. The age-old customs or the people who blindly follow it without considering the consequences it would have on the victims. I remember it was a case of some village of the West Bengal. I want to ask just one question is those customs really above the lives of people, perhaps their kids. Why can’t people just change their mindset?
One of my cousins literally was taunted because he had zero interest in cooking and what would her in-laws think and as a result they will also thrash her parents. Guess, know her age—20.
Some of the data says that Jharkhand tops the list of child marriages (14.1%). Also, rural child marriages are three times urban India in 2009. Some astonishing facts could be that 28 girls are made bride every minute, 8.5 crore little girls are forced into child marriage in India. About 10.3 crore child marriages happen in India when the population of Germany is only 8.07 crore. In Bihar, 39.1% girls are married before the age of 18.
Roots can’t really be traced as to why it really was practised but, some references can be given. Gender inequality and the belief that females are inferior to males are some. Poverty, lack of education, cultural practices, and insecurity fuel basically sustain the practice. Girls are usually seen burden to their family and married off quickly so that ‘burden’ is transferred to their husbands’ family. The marriage of girls is seen as ay to ease economic hardship.
If we talk about tradition then child marriages happened for generations. Girls are termed idle or fit for marriages when they start menstruating, marriage is, therefore, the next step towards the status of wife and mother. And same just like I wrote before, she carried the baby at the age of thirteen. Some harmful traditions can be linked to each other and one such as female genital mutilations is considered a rite of passage to womanhood. They often go unquestioned as they have been a part of the community for so long. Quoted by wife of Nelson Mandela, she said that traditions are made by people, then, it can be unmade by people.
Girls are actually considered as a material or product for those of poor family. If the bride is uneducated and young, they have to pay less money in dowry, or marriage is the way to repay debts or settle disputes, settle social or economic alliances. Also in some communities where the bride price is paid, often welcomed as the income for the poor family. Giving daughter in marriage is considered a reduction in family expenses. As the stereotype suggests, son is always considered an asset and the family believe in educating and feeding them well as compared to daughters. You must have heard ‘kya karegi padh ke, belan hi chalana hai isko?’ which means that what is the benefit of educating girls when ultimately they have to cook and look after their family? Why can’t people think that importance of cooking is not related to girls or boys only, but, it is only a way to survive which both should learn how to.
Insecurities of the girl sexuality are one of the main reasons behind this act. The family often feels it is way best to get her married before some wrong happens to her. In her husband’s place, she is secured and anybody dares not touch her. Okay, marriage can be a solution to this problem, but how do you just here a married woman aged 40 is gang-raped? Perhaps a little school going girl who hasn’t even turned 12 is assaulted and been injected some sharp objects? One is married and so-called safe in her husband’s possession and another one is too small to satisfy the hunger of those animals. So are they supposed to get married again in the first case or forced into marriage? The matter here lies is to teach and educate both, boys and girls. Give them equal preference, teach them to respect, not a gender biased women but, the other way round too.
Child marriage can increase in humanitarian crises, such as in conflict or after a natural disaster. Nine out of ten countries with highest child marriage rates are considered the fragile state. My plea would only is, nothing can be stopped in one day but, at least try and everything will be stopped in one day.
Has anyone thought what could be the consequences? One of them being constantly mentioned by me about the teen pregnancy, another biggest reason could be, that whether the child is really fit for the marriage or not, if they are personally developed to cope up with this phase of change. The freedom of both the parties is curtailed, education, economic opportunities minimizes. It even increases her risk of domestic violence. Girls under 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth and face pregnancy-related injuries such as obstetric fistula. Child brides are often unable to negotiate safer sexual practices and are there at a higher risk of HIV etc. the children of child brides are 60% more likely to die in the first year of life than those born to mothers at 19.