Impact of Child Marriage -
• Conflict and Humanitarian Crises: Girls are often seen as more of a burden during a humanitarian crisis. According to statistics, child marriages go up as soon as the economy goes down. Child marriage slows down the economy of the whole nation and the vicious cycle continues.
• Education: Girls are often asked to leave school as soon as they get married. And returning to school becomes difficult after getting married. This can bring down the educated population of the country as a whole.
• Health: Going through child marriage deteriorates a girl's health in unimaginable ways. She becomes vulnerable to getting pregnant at a very early age which can harm her health and the baby's health as well.
• Human rights and justice: Not letting girls when they want to marry is a direct threat to her individual rights. It has sometimes been described as a form of slavery where a girl's decisions were first taken by her father and then, by her husband and his family.
• Poverty: Poverty is not only a driver of child marriage but it is a consequence of it as well. When women are not given equal rights in the country it can worsen the economic situation of the country.
• Sustainable Development Goals: According to a study, ending child marriage will help us attain 8 out of the 17 development goals namely - no poverty, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, inclusive and quality education, gender inequality, economic growth, reduced inequalities and peace, justice and strong institutions.
• Violence against girls: According to statistics, girls who are married before 15 are 50% more likely to face sexual and physical violence from their partner. The likelihood increases with an age difference - which is quite common in many child marriages where the girl is below 18. These brides are also more likely to believe that these actions are justified.
How Can We End it?
• Empower Girls
One of the first steps towards ending this menace is working with the girls. Giving them the opportunity to learn new skills and understand their rights will bring a positive change to child marriage. Providing safe space programs that focus on knowledge and literacy will help girls forge their own pathways in life. Young people should also be encouraged to take part in the program as these little girls will directly see them as role models.
• Mobilise families and communities
A lot of families see child marriage as an honor and part of their culture. It's important for them to understand the harmful consequences of child marriage and change their attitude towards it. It's important to work with men, boys, and traditional leaders as they are the main decision-makers. Reducing their acceptance can help bring a positive change.
• Provide Services
Child marriage is a direct consequence of a lack of proper education and healthcare. It is important that we work towards these basics services to curb child marriage from the roots. Educating girls on sexual health will prevent them from getting pregnant at an early age. Economic empowerment by offering microfinancing and loan schemes can also help girls to not be considered as a burden on the family.
• Establish and implement laws and policies
A lot of countries lack robust policies to prevent child marriage. It is also important to have a severe punishment so that any offenders are wary of the consequences. The government must take a strong stand on the issue as child marriage is a menace for the whole country.
By: Kiara Sharma
School: Mahaveer Public School
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