Present time, child marriage is a curse in the global society. Child marriage is a violation of human rights. In most cases young girls get married off to significantly older men when they are still children. Child marriages must be viewed within a context of force and coercion, involving pressure and emotional blackmail, and children that lack the choice or capacity to give their full consent. Child marriage must therefore always be considered forced marriage because valid consent is absent – and often considered unnecessary. Child marriage is common practice in India, Niger, Bangladesh, Pakistan Guinea, Burkina Faso, Africa and Nepal, where mostly girls are married below the age of 18.
Consequences of child marriage
Child marriage has its own worse effect on the young girls, society, her children and health. Young girls who get married will most likely be forced into having sexual intercourse with their, usually much older, husbands. This has severe negative health consequences as the girl is often not psychologically, physically and sexually mature. Child brides are likely to become pregnant at an early age and there is a strong correlation between the age of a mother and maternal mortality and morbidity. Girls aged 11-13 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than women aged 20-24 and girls aged 15-19 are twice as likely to die. Good prenatal care reduces the risk of childbirth complications, but in many instances, due to their limited autonomy or freedom of movement, young wives have no access to health services, which aggravates the risks of maternal complications and mortality for pregnant adolescents. Because young girls are not ready for the responsibilities and roles of being a wife, sexual partner and a mother, child marriage has a serious negative impact on their psychological well-being and personal development.
Psychological effect of the child marriage is worse than the physical effect of the young girl. Girls are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS as compared to boys due to physical and social factors. Young married girls are even at higher risk because their older husbands may already be infected in previous sexual relationships. Furthermore, the age difference between the girl and the husband and her low economic status make it almost impossible for the girl to negotiate safe sex or demand fidelity.
Young girls also have to face many domestic pressures. Mostly, Girls are used to beaten by their husbands including my country INDIA. Domestic violence seriously endangers the physical and mental health of women and girls and can even put their lives at risk.
Dowry is another part of this violence. Girls are forced to bring more dowries from their parents. If they do not bring they are harassed, some times they are burnt alive, often hanged, poisoned and killed by her familyBecause of our past traditional patriarchal society, there always remained gender inequalities as pointed by a great historian GERDA LERNER. Gender inequality is both a cause as well as a consequence of child marriage. Child brides usually have lower levels of education than girls who get married at an older age. Education is therefore seen as a way to prevent child marriages. Once a girl is married, she experiences a lack of autonomy to make personal decisions about her life.
To a limited extent, this affects the future of child, his education and health. Early marriage, together with its relation to low levels of education, high levels of violence and abuse, severe health risks and harmful power dynamics, results in increased vulnerability to poverty for girls and young women. So childe marriage has worse affects not only the mother of the child and child but also on the society.
Human Rights Violation
Child marriage is a violation of human rights and is prohibited by a number of international conventions and other instruments. Nonetheless, it is estimated that in the next ten years more than 100 million girls are likely to be married before the age of 18.
There are universal rules for the marriage and rules against the childe marriage. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states that men and women of full age are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending parties.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination of Women (1979) states that the betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, should be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry compulsory. In their general recommendations of 1994, the Committee considers that the minimum age for marriage should be 18 years for both men and women.
We call on all governments to take all necessary action to end child marriage by:
- The full implementation of the above mentioned Human Rights Conventions.
- Adopting a clear and unambiguous position on child and forced marriages.
- Introducing laws to rise the legal age of marriage to 18 years as a universal law.
- Raising the awareness on the negative impacts of child marriage.
- Promoting and protecting the sexual and reproductive health and rights of girls and young women, through legislation, availability of services and information and community outreach.
- Promoting gender equality and the right of girls and young women to education.
- Promoting higher education to all young girls so that they can decide what is important for their future.
As a conclusion it can be pointed out that childe marriage is a major subject of concern. It should be eradicated globally as soon as possible. it is up to us to solve this problem as we have created this inequality in the society.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Arun Kumar is pursuing a History honours (B.A.) IIndYR from Delhi College of Art and Commerce, at University of Delhi.