Child marriage in focus

By Kelly Jirsa

Mamta, 9, rides pillion with her groom Ram Singh after their wedding in Biaora. REUTERS/Raj Patidar
Mamta, 9, rides pillion with her groom Ram Singh after their wedding in Biaora. REUTERS/Raj Patidar

You may have seen it in your news feed on Facebook or Twitter recently, a confronting video that begins with beautiful scenes of preparing for a lavish wedding and ends in a shocking revelation. The film shows hands applying make up, straightening bows, and a panning shot of a chair dressed with a ‘She belongs to me’ plaque, leading to the unveiling of the child bride.

This campaign by UNICEF is not a fictional work by scriptwriters; this reflects the reality that over 41,000 girls under the age of 18 are married each day.

Yemen is one of the worst culprits with girls as young as 8 years old being married off and subjected to martial rape, imprisonment and no access to education.

Child brides are more likely to die in childbirth than complete school, which translates to 70,000 deaths each year.

According to the International Centre for Research on Women

Pregnancy is consistently among the leading causes of death for girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide.

Girls ages 15 – 19 are 2 to 6 times more likely to contract HIV than boys of the same age in sub-Saharan Africa.

Girls who marry before 18 are more likely to experience domestic violence than their peers who marry later.

Child brides often show signs symptomatic of sexual abuse and post-traumatic stress such as feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and severe depression.

This film and another created with electronic music producer RL Grime shows the chilling and moving plight of girls in these situations.

UNICEF’s Campaign to End Child Marriage and organisations like Girls Not Brides are focusing on families and communities, educating them on the harmful impact of child marriage, lobby to support policies and action that protects girls and “remove barriers to law enforcement.”


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