The Dangerous And Harmful Act Of Child Marriage 

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Imagine you are a teenager and instead of packing your bag to head off to school for the day, you are packing your bags and seeing your loved ones for the last time before marrying a complete stranger and becoming their property. Good morning. My name is Lucy Lucas and I am honoured to be a speaker today at the 2020 United Nations Youth Forum where together, we can strive to make the world a better place. This is a call to action: I challenge you, the international community, to eliminate the harmful and despicable global practice of child marriage. Child marriage is an issue of child protection. It violates children’s basic human rights and places them at high risk of abuse, violence and exploitation. Child marriage prevents the education of children and deprives them of their childhood.

Child marriage is a harmful and despicable global practice that violates children’s basic human rights. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it states in articles 1,3,4,16, states that everyone has the right to equality, liberty, freedom from slavery and the right to marry and have a family when legally old enough. Article 16 states “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to find a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.” It can therefore be seen how horrific child marriage is, as it is an outrageous breach and direct conflict of a poor child’s basic human rights.

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Child marriage is a shameful action that is happening all around the world and it places children at risk for abuse, violence and exploitation as well as their own health. It can be argued that child brides are neither physically nor mentally ready to become wives and mothers. If 1 in 5 girls in the world is married before the age of 18 this means over 650 million women alive today having been married before the age of 18. Statistics prove that child brides are 50 Percent of more likely to experience physical or sexual abuse from a partner and are more likely to describe their first sexual experience as forced. “Because the vast majority of child marriages are younger girls to older men, there is an inherent imbalance of power in these relationships, which is often linked to domestic violence.” (Equality Now). Health risks – dangerous complications during pregnancy and childbirth, greater risk of diseases including HIV, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. The consequences of child marriage are dire, with minors as young as eight years old being physically abused by their spouses, they are also mentally harmed by the experience.

Child marriage is a disgraceful custom that occurs globally, and it dramatically inhibits a child’s access to education and robs them of their childhood. This terrible custom prevents minors from attending school with spouses often disapproving. As the children often have responsibilities at home such as housework, caring for offspring or other relatives. “when women and girl are barred from accessing education, their economic opportunities are limited, trapping them in a cycle of poverty”. Consequently, it can clearly be seen that not only does child marriage rob children of their childhood, but it deprives them of an education.

Child marriage is a complex issue that is a result of economic, cultural and social forces. It can be argued that child marriage is a means of escaping poverty into a better life, however as you would know, there are horrific outcomes that come with child marriage. Such as abuse, loss of education and the risk of children becoming their spouse’s property.

So, I implore you to join the fight to eliminate the detrimental and shameful global practice of child marriage. A child’s basic human rights are violated every time a marriage takes place involving a child under the age of 18 years and they deserve protection. Child marriage places minors at high risk of abuse, violence and exploitation while preventing them from an education and depriving them of their childhood. Imagine a world where every child has the opportunity to have a childhood, an education, to feel safe and loved.

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