When you hear child bride what do you think of?
I picture multiple girls lined up holding much older men’s hands. However, girls are not the only ones affected boys are too. The difference is that girls in these developing countries are often viewed as just another mouth to feed and worthless until puberty. Then is when she is viewed as able to be used for childbirth, sex, housework, and other “wifely duties.”
Image from http://www.franklinfernandes.com/child_marrige.html
It is said that a girl does not marry an individual man, but her family marries his family. The marriage is often done for any other reason than love. Some of the most common reasons are for tradition and culture, making alliances, paying back debts, and out of poverty (one less mouth to feed and thought that they might have a better life). However, all of these reasons do not justify that the underage marriage is illegal and usually makes the children worse off.
A PBS documentary looked into child marriage from three different countries. I will share with you some of their findings from India. The documentary they witnessed three child brides married at one time. Most of the ceremonies are done in secret, at night, and in rural towns. One of the children being married off was younger than 5 years old. She will have a second Indian ceremony when she is older called Guana. Guana will mark the transition from living with the childhood family to moving into the in-laws family. In many cases, children may not have contact with their husbands after marriage until she is physically mature. The definition of maturity is when she’s had her first menstruation cycle and is able to bare children. This is a very taboo subject you rarely have defined.
Once the girl moves in with the family, there is enormous pressure to earn your place within the family and one way is to get pregnant. When asked on a political news station about how does one know when a girl is mature, the man avoided the question then said, "We are told often by the mother and elder women in her village." It is very sad when a girl has no say about how she feels about where her own maturity lies. Let's be honest, just because a girl gets her period does not mean she can handle everything else that comes along with adulthood. This includes marriage, sex, emotional capability, education, responsibilities - the list can go on. However, in many developing countries this is the point in which girls are pulled out of school, become pregnant, and given more household duties with the expectation that they can emotionally and physically handle the situation.
The above YouTube video shows that, girls would rather set themselves on fire than endure the emotional and physical demands of the marriage and their families. Also, there is great risk when girls become pregnant at such a young age. If death does not occur, there could be several other complications and living with those complications can be just as dreadful.
All around the world childhood marriage is happening. The statistics are scary. The problem is that is can be just as scary to go against the tradition. There is little law enforcement to back those who oppose child marriage practices. Therefore, when law enforcement does act, they are see a back-lash, on as seen in the PBS documentary as well. The movement to ban child marriage has to start somewhere, there has to be few brave soles. Societies need leaders and activists.
As discussed, women in other cultures are not viewed as important which is why the child bride problem continues to prevail. We are proud to partner with organizations that work to empower women through fair trade. While you see a product like a pillow or an ornament, the work of empowerment that is going on behind the scenes is what the projects and the products are all about.
This Hope Pillow is handmade in India by a group who is fighting against the gendercide issues women and girls are facing in India. Women are taken into an apprenticeship program where they learn sewing and business skills. Her children are also enrolled in school. After the women complete the apprenticeship program they are employed at the cooperative where they are empowered to care for themselves and their families.
These yarn ornaments are made by single mothers in a rural Colombian town where there are limited opportunities for employment.Your purchase allows these women to care for and serve as role models for their children.
These heart ornaments are made in Bangladesh by a cooperative that employs over 200 people. In this project, artisans are empowered to move away from financial dependency on donors towards greater financial autonomy. Proceeds also help fund Salvation Army projects in the this area.
I would like to include boys in this blog post, because nothing can change without bringing the entire population together on the issue. Child grooms are faced with overwhelming pressures to impregnate their new wife and begin working to provide for the family. Young boys are also unsure of where they fit in the family and what is exactly expected of him. Boys can be pulled out of school and also risk losing access to an education that could have provided a better life, as well as being exposed to the emotional damage childhood marriage can do to a child.
Below are some organizations that I found that help combat child marriage and its repercussions:
Here is a beeautiful video from Girls not Brides about men in the community getting involved to change child marriage and the outlook on girls in their communities - http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/measuring-men-mhttp://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-c1-nepal-child-grooms-20150127-story.html#page=1obilising-men-child-marriage-kenya/
Information Gathered about this topic were from these sources:
Child Groom Articles