End Child Marriage

Selling daughters to the highest bidder is common practice around the world. It is one of the most outrageous act of parents in the marriage market. Girls, as young as 8, are married off to men of 40 years old in many Africans and South Asian countries. The United Nations for decades has condemned such action as child abuse. Child marriage is human rights violation by parents. We need a massive out-of school parent’s education program to change parents attitude towards daughters that they are not commodities to be exchange for cash. To treat daughters and sons equally. Despite laws that have been enacted by governments of many countries to prevent such a horrible practice, incidence of child marriage has remained constantly high. In 41 developing countries, the number of child marriages ranges as high as 75 percent in Niger in Africa to 30 percent in Haiti. This month, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) released an interesting report “Marrying Too Young: End Child Marriage”. It contains trend at global and regional level, an Agenda for Action to give girls a chance, and profiles of ten countries with the highest rate of child marriage. Marriage too young for poor girls could mean a life without education, a life in servitude to a husband and a slave to members of her husband’s extended family. Then, when girls get pregnant early in their teens, it is not only an end to their own childhood, but also the beginning of taking on the burden of having a double-workload. They have joined in the vicious cycles of poverty, commonly known as a syndrome of “being a mother too soon”. Their parents have stolen their daughter’s choice for a better future. To punish parents for the crime of selling their daughters in marriage-market is not an effective way to end the abuse of young girls. Governments cannot do much on their own to change the attitude of its people and the hopeless situation. I think we need support from mass media and social communication network to campaign to keep girls in school, to provide them with education which include health, sex-education and HIV/AIDS prevention, and career opportunity. And, most of all, to give support to girls who have enough courage and strength to say “no” to their parents in an arranged marriage situation, and to insist in having their own life-choice for a better future.

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