I know people who got married when they were 18 or 19 years old. And I considered that too young. But getting married at 18 or 19 is absolutely nothing comparison to children as young as 10 or 11 being thrust into a state of wedlock.
When I read this article in the Global Post a while ago, it just brought back to the forefront that child marriage is still very much a problem in Indian society.
“I thought marriage was a game,” Hasina says as she sits in a bamboo home in her husband’s village. She fidgets with her orange, black and green sari that covers her head and falls over her breasts, unusually big for her tiny frame. Hasina is now 15 and five months pregnant.
Whilre you’re at it, watch this report from NDTV on India being a hub of child marriage.
UNICEF has a piece on their website on the same issue:
Married at 13, Shanti got pregnant immediately afterwards and subsequently lost her underweight, prematurely delivered baby. She is pregnant again. “This time, we hope she pulls it off,” says her mother-in-law.
Apart from this practice being morally wrong and unhealthy for the girls in question, it also imposes the problem of maternal mortality. Young girls are simply more susceptible to problems with birthing, and contribute to the higher rates of mortality during childbirth.
Again, this problem is inherently tied to – in my opinion – illiteracy, customs deemed to be religious in nature, and the patriarchal nature of society, more so in rural areas of the vast country. Despite the presence of the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 and The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, this problem has survived. Can educating these people work when they’re sunk in so deep into the misleading and false mores of society?
It does seem a vicious cycle, doesn’t it? The uneducated think it’s best for children to get married. Perhaps a girl as young as 12 is married to a boy either her age or even older. Obviously sex is expected. Pregnancy is inevitable; who uses condoms? The girls gives birth at a young age and might or might not survive. If she survives, it’s the only kind of life she knows and believes that that is how it is meant to be. And she teaches that to her children. And so it goes on.
I paint a bleak picture. Perhaps that is because I can see no discerning change in the practice. But does that mean we should stop trying to change this status quo? No.
Pandora gave us Hope. And so I succumb to it, as many of us do.