The Battle Against Child Marriage: One Step Forward

Many little girls in the western world dream of the day when they will become brides, imagining themselves the most beautiful, special, and celebrated person in the world on that magical day.

However, for many girls around the world, marriage is not far away – and with it, all the responsibilities and duties of a wife.

According to a UN report in 2005, 60 million girls worldwide have been married. A startling 100 million more are expected to be forced or sold into marriage by their parents in the next 10 years.

In some locations, there is progress.

In Pakistan, a new and contentious law is being proposed to drastically increase the fine for forcing a girl into marriage under the age of 16 (which is the current legal age for women there – for men it is 18), with a possible jail sentence of 2 years.  Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, who is currently the UN special envoy on global education, said he believes the next step for Pakistan is “child marriage-free zones“, in which girls would be encouraged to get educated and know their rights (with support from the UN).

However, there has also been disturbing regression.

In Iraq, a new law may enable men not only to engage in non-consensual marital relations with their wives, but to take wives as young as 9 years old! The final vote on the legislation will take place in April, and could also limit movement of women without their husbands’ or fathers’ consent, and enable men to attain easier divorces than women.

Child marriage is viewed by some as a cultural practice, by others as a violation of basic human rights.  What do you think?

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CULTURE IS NO EXCUSE FOR ABUSE

Honor Diaries is a movement to inspire people to learn more about issues facing women in Muslim-majority societies.

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