Young Girls Forced To Marry As Young As 7-Years Old

Commentary: It is extremely sad to read how young girls are walking down the aisles for marriage when they’re too young to understand the true concept of marriage. This is happening in many countries throughout the world where poverty abounds and young girls marry as young as 7-years old and one out of two girls marries before they’re 15-years of age.

The Washington Post reported in an article, "Niger has the world’s greatest rate of child marriages, with about one out of two girls marrying before the age of 15-years old and some are as young as 7-years old. The hunger crisis affects millions of young girls throughout the Sahel region of West Africa, and aid workers fear parents who are struggling will marry off young girls earlier for the doweries they can fetch to be able to help their family survive."

The Washington Post article also stated that, "Child marriage is a global phenomenon and it is more prevalent in Africa and southern Asias."

It is sad and discouraging to know that young girls are being seen as a simple commodity or for currency or to pay-up an owed debt; and some of them are given in marriage to rich families to try and to protect them during serious economic crisis in their countries. The young girls never realize the freedom of choice or their right to choose who they want to marry. This saddens me deeply as I appreciate the freedoms I’ve realized throughout my life.

According to the U.S. Census bureau, "The median age at first marriage has increased to 28.2 for men and 25.1 for women in 2010."

This U.S. Census bureau increase was pleasing for me to read because many years ago women in the U.S. chose to marry at a much earlier age than today. I know that at my early age women felt like they were going to be an old-maid if they were not married by the ripe age of 18-years. 

Many of the girls married at the age of 16-years and they had a couple of children before they reached the age of 20-years. Most of the girls were permitted to marry by their parents because they had also married at a very young age. 

Most women in the U.S. during those days were not interested in going out of the home to work because they were taught that women stayed home, took care of the household chores, and raised their chidren. Many of them did not have a chance to go to college and to get an education because they believed they were suppose to marry and to have a family and be a stay-at-home wife. 

What these women were doing was following in their parents footsteps and throughout their parents generations of people. It’s terrible to say but it is my belief that women were brainwashed into believing as their parents did, and that was, "Women did not go outside the home to work." This had been passed-down from generations and it became a sort of a brainwash for women in their society and they did not break the chain.

It is my belief that this had a serious impact on women’s rights in America because it sort of suggested women were happy and pleased to stay at home and raise their children while the men went outside the home to work and to make the living for their families. Women’s innocence and refusal to stand up and to fight for their rights to work if they chose too, robbed them of their women’s rights and caused them to be suppressed for many years. 

UNICEF supports the notion that this is "no" isolated occurrence, and they stated, "Globally 36 per cent of women aged 20-24 years old are married or in a union before the age of 18-years old; and that an estimated 14 million adolescents between 15 and 19 give birth each year; and girls in this age group are more apt to die during childbirth than women who are in their 20′s."

CARE, a humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, has stated that the problem is a lot worse than people would expect because there are more than 60 million girls who are under the age of 18-years old and they’re married to men who are much older than them. 

Many of these young girls who are married are mistreated and abused terribly by the men and they have no say or choice but to accept the abuse. This is terrible and it makes me feel as though my hands are totally tied because there is no way to help these young girls as they suffer at the hands of monsters.

It’s hard to solve these types of problems because they’re actually ingrained in many societies of the world. It is like the ingraining that young girls suffered in my young generation and they took no actions to lash out and refuse to accept not working.

UNICEF has also indicated that, "Governments need to establish 18 years old as the legal age for marriage of girls and boys, and to ensure that it is implemented. If governments would promote birth and marriage registrations, it would enable laws to be enforced throughout the world."

It is my belief if governments, societies, and people write and speak about this terrible situation enough, countries will become more aware of how illegal it is for a parent or parents to offer their young girls hands in marriage. This could lead to the first steps for freedom of choice for young women throughout the world.

Situations like this are hard to deal with in our society and people should do all they can to make others aware of the existence of these serious problems. 

No person should be deprived of their rights to freedom of choice because people should be allowed to make their own choices and decisions. When people are denied their rights, it is inhumane and cruel for them as they live in a life of uncertainty and unhappiness.

Sole writer of this article is Barbara Kasey Smith.

1. Washington Post 
2. U.S. Census bureau