Girls who get married are more likely to drop out of school. Education is key to ending child marriage. Education and awareness are the best tools to end child marriages. However, and despite the serious consequences it brings, many families continue to opt for this practice, but why? We tell you the causes that can cause child marriage.
Africa and Southeast Asia are the regions with the highest number of child marriages. Nepal, Ethiopia, Guinea, Central African Republic, Mali, Chad, Bangladesh, and Niger are some of the countries with the highest percentage of girls forcibly married as minors.
It is no coincidence that these also occupy the lists of the poorest countries. In developing states, low-income families choose to marry their daughters early to take off a financial burden and receive the dowry (goods, livestock, money...). Many believe that they are giving their daughter a better future.
Girls fleeing war to other countries are another group that is the victim of forced marriages. Jordan's refugee camps, where peace and protection are conspicuous by their absence, have become the scene of numerous children's weddings.
Although the legal age to marry in Jordan is 18, Sharia may authorize marriage to minors up to the age of 15. Although due to the economic difficulties many refugee families face, there have been occasions of marriage with girls under 14 years of age. In these cases, poverty is compounded by the parents' fear that the girl will be raped or attacked, and they see marriage as a way to protect them.
New call to action:
Although child marriage accounted for 13% of all pre-war marriages in Syria, it has now doubled and nearly half of girls have been forced to marry a man at least 10 years older than they are. But not all the data is negative, as the number of Syrian refugee women in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon who oppose their daughters getting married is increasing.
Education and culture:
To the previous causes, we must add the cultural values of the society in which these girls live. The society of the countries in which this practice is admitted is macho, does not allow women to access the same opportunities as men and does not respect their most fundamental rights.
The limited access to education that women have in these countries does not help either. This leads many mothers to continue to believe that marrying their daughter to an older man is a way of assuring her future and giving her a better life and of not giving importance to the girl leaving school prematurely.
Child marriage within everyone's reach:
If someone is asked on the street of a country like France or the United States about child marriage, the vast majority will answer that it is something typical of the least developed countries and that in their case those things do not happen.
But they are wrong. Child marriage, although not as widespread, also exist in more developed countries. This is the case in the United States, a country that has been shaken by controversy after the publication of the article “Eleven years, mother, and forced to marry her rapist in Florida”, in The New York Times.
In this article, Sherry Johnson tells her story. She was 11 years old when she was raped and became pregnant, so her parents and her church decided to marry her to avoid scandals. Sherry dropped out of school and during the marriage dedicated herself to taking care of all the children she had, also the result of rapes.
To this day, Sherry has become an activist and is fighting to prevent child marriage in a country where, between 2000 and 2010, more than 167,000 minors have married, including girls between 12 and 14 years old.
In the one that even though the national law establishes 18 years as the legal age to contract marriage, the laws of each state establish exceptions that make it legal.
In most of them, having the permission of the parents and guardians and the authorization of a judge is the only thing that is necessary for the minors to marry.