Child Marriage Is The World’s Dirty Secret
By: Kylie Hapuarachchi
The idea of child marriage is one of the things that most American children will not even think about. However, there is this oddity that in the US, child marriage is extremely prevalent.
Not only is this in the US, but also in other parts of the world.
Child marriage is considered any marriage where one person in the party is under the age of 18. This also means that the marriage is forced and that there is no consent when proclaiming this union.
In the US alone, between the years 2000 and 2015, more than 200,000 minors were forced into a marriage. The majority of the minors were young girls and married off to adults.
A young girl named Donna Pollard, was one of those minors that were preyed upon by someone with authority. The man in question was 29 when she was 14.
He later became her husband, in which he abused her constantly and led to her having a very toxic relationship. Since she was underage it was hard for her to go to a domestic violence shelter.
Pollard, now, is a member of Survivors Corner, which advocates for survivors of sexual assault, exploitation, and domestic violence.
She believes that no one, let alone young children should have to go through what she did.
The US, a first world country that is believed to have rights and freedom, lacks those that protect young children from marriage. In the more recent years certain states have created new laws to prevent child marriage from happening.
Prior to the new law in New York, children as young as 14 could be married with a judges approval and at the age of 16 with parents approval.
With the new law intact, any marriage under the age of 18 is illegal and will not be done in the state of New York.
Other states have also done the same such as: California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
The numbers are only higher for other countries. Five countries alone rank at the highest numbers of child marriages seen.
According to Global Citizen, the top five countries in which child marriage is seen are, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Brazil and Ethiopia.
In India, 47% of girls are married by the age of 18. This statistic is very important considering that India alone holds about a third of the world’s population.
The countries have included that most of these marriages happen with someone that is an adult.
Some young girls are taken at younger ages due to their status of virtue. It is thought that a virgin is pure which leads to many girls being married off to older men. A woman is considered an asset rather than a human.
This also leads to issues of domestic violence because once again the person is looked upon as an asset, they claim them as property rather than people.
It is essentially an ongoing cycle of abuse, child marriage and fear. It is a cycle that needs to change. Even if it is small changes like the states such as the law NY made when changing their marriage laws.
It’s this sickening statistic of child marriages. Whether boys or girls, both are taken advantage of and made into something they simply should not be.
Children are exploited on a daily basis and the mere fact that children in first world countries are not susceptible to child marriages makes it harder to comprehend.
Children are considered monetary values in the world when they are just people that need to be protected from the harsh environment of what is known to us.
How can a country that believes in many freedoms, not be able to protect the youngest citizens they have?