No more Child Marriage

“I want to tell all the women who are suffering abuse to be strong.” – Aisha Bibi

Aisha, an 18-year-old Afghan girl, was married to her husband when she was only 14. After being beaten up countless times and treated like a slave, she decided to run away from her home. However, she was caught and brutally punished. Her husband’s family pulled her to a cleared mountain and they held her down. Her husband pulled out a knife from his pocket and he sliced her ears and then her nose. At that moment, she fainted and the family left her there to die. How disgusting right? Yet, this is a common occurrence in South Asia. 

Welcome Bonnyrigg HS teachers. According to the International Centre for Research on Women Organisation, an average of 15 million girls under the age of 18 get married every year. Young girls who haven’t even had the slightest opportunity to live a carefree childhood, to go to school, to make friends – to be children. Young girls who are physically forced to marry as soon as they hit the age of 13. Young girls who do not have the right to say a single word. The phenomenon of early, forced marriage seems to be a frequent predicament among young women today. The practice of forced marriages needs to be obliterated for the sake of innocent girls. Together, we need to be lights of hope for them, to allow equal opportunities in life for our young girls, especially those in South Asia.

Empower, eliminate, end.

Many young brides involved in child marriage are left stranded in deprivation, depression and disadvantage. Numerous young girls in South Asia have been robbed of vital opportunities, like education, due to their forced marriage. Without a proper education, girls are forced into impossibly difficult situations and are unable to break away from the perpetual cycle of poverty and lack of knowledge. Child marriage diminishes choices and the capacity of young girls to fully achieve their goals. Child brides are unable to fully understand the severity of the situation and know how to take care of their children and family.

According to Girls Not Brides Organisation, more than 60% of women aged 20-24 with no education were married before 18 in South Asia. Imagine yourself, a young teenager who unwillingly and forcefully must marry a man decades older than you. How would you feel? Petrified? Isolated? 15 million girls, every year, have suffered and are forced into this inescapable captivity with no way out. 

As a 13 year old girl in a country with free education, schooling and rights, I feel incredibly grateful to have this important blessing. Conversely, I question why I have these essential, fundamental rights and other 13 year old girls in South Asia don’t?  Why do I have the right to speak up about child marriage and other young girls in Niger, Central African Republic and Chad cannot? Why do I get to decide my future choices and other 13 year old girls don’t?

When girls have access to basic education, it gives them the knowledge to make informed decisions later in their lives. Let me remind you that these married YOUNG women are innocent children who haven’t experienced adulthood yet. And shouldn’t have to at such a tender age. You and I need to GIVE South Asia free, crucial education to young girls, especially those stuck in forced marriage.

Are there words you could say that are powerful enough to express the amount of pain and isolation child brides have to endure? Are there words that can describe the tsunamis of confused thoughts and the youthful mindset the young girls have? Not many words can describe this atrocity.

Empower, eliminate, end.

We all must work now, not wait.

We all need to immediately remind world leaders about this problem that has been physically and mentally agonising children for centuries. Petition, speak and stand up for child brides to ensure governments set stricter laws and policies. From the hills of Bangladesh, to households in Afghanistan, to the empty schools in Sudan, and to the other 114 nations that still have legal child marriage, we all need to speak up and end this practice… for the sake of future generations of women, girls, mothers, grandmothers and sisters.

Friends, we all need to fight to change community attitudes towards this monstrous issue and provide safe support networks for girls who face any form of duress – for good! 

Let’s all spread the word globally to ensure all young girls have equal rights and opportunities in life. Let’s all help and support our girls to get them out of this small, confined cage. Let’s all empower child brides with their limited chances and give them unlimited freedom.

Plan International estimates an astonishing 150 million girls will become child brides by 2030. Let’s all work to eliminate forced marriage or any harmful practices and violence against young girls in the world, especially in South Asia.

As Malala Yousifzai, a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2014, says, “If she is not interested and says no to marriage then she cannot be forced.”

Empower, eliminate and end child marriage, forever…

 

These stories were written in our Factory Feedback program, which was created with, and generously supported by, the Dusseldorp Forum.