RECENTLY, word spread on social media about a 64-year-old MNA marrying a 14-year-old girl. Aside from a few protests from child rights campaigners and a couple of legislators, no action was taken against him.
A marriage between 2 individuals in which one or both individuals are under the age of 18 is known as child marriage. Girls are considerably more affected than boys by this behavior. Pakistan has the world’s sixth highest number of child brides. Approximately half of the Pakistani women marry before the age of 18, and 19% of females start having children between the ages of 15 and 19.
LACK OF ACCESS TO EDUCATION
Child brides face serious difficulties because they were married as children. Child marriage has long been a barrier to a girl’s education since early marriage ends a girl’s education because societal pressure does not allow her to go to school after marriage. For younger girls, economic possibilities become limited; it trapped them in a cycle of poverty.
Like Qubra, a village girl, married at the age of 13 because of her father’s primitive views, and at that young age, she was expected to do domestic work for which she was unprepared, and at the age of 16, she had a child but did not know how to take care of the child. Her family has a record of early marriage. His father believes that if a girl reaches puberty, it’s sinful for her to remain unmarried. Before marriage, she lived her own free life, whether working or not, but after marriage, she is responsible for doing all the housework and taking care of her child. She likes to go to school, but due to her marriage, her education has been stopped.
SERIOUS HEALTH ISSUES
Secondly, women who are married as children are more likely to experience PTSD symptoms and signs of depression. Marriages before the age of 18 are associated with a 23% increased risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and stroke. Child brides are not physically or emotionally prepared to become spouses and mothers because they face increased risks of hazardous pregnancy and delivery difficulties, contracting HIV/AIDS, and experiencing domestic violence.
PREVENT THIS PRACTICE
Worldwide, Approx 60 million girls under the age of 18 are married. So there are numerous strategies to prevent child marriages. Firstly girls must be educated because education plays a major role in keeping girls safe from child marriage. Education ensures that girls develop the knowledge and skills they need to find work and support their families. Provide information, skill sets, and support networks to girls. Rallying the entire community to support the girls’ rights and give them equal rights. Provide income opportunities for girls and their families.
We must put an end to child marriage because every girl has the right to learn and receive a quality education, and education has empowered girls to stand up to injustices such as child marriage. Girls’ education saves lives while also strengthening families, communities, and economies.
If you educate a girl you educate a nation. (Helen D Gayle)