A global View on Child Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy

shurouq qadous's picture
Year of Publication: 
2013
Authors: 
Shorooq G. Qadous
Current Affiliation: 
Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, An-Najah National University, P.O. Box 7, Nablus, Palestine
Preferred Abstract (Original): 
Girls face discrimination and violence every day across the world, especially in countries living in poverty. Their basic rights to live a normal life without being abused by their family, relatives, friends, or society in general is sadly not obtained. Girls, especially the ones who are under the age of 18 years old in third world countries, have no right to enjoy their childhood as children. They are being treated as women once they reach puberty. Families in third world countries living under poverty see girls as a burden, and one of the ways to bring this weight down is to get ride of them. Not necessarily by killing them, but by marrying them for dowry. Child marriage is without doubt a violation of human rights and deprives girls from their education and health. In many countries, child marriage is banned but still spans within religion and caste.

Usually in Palestine and Arab countries, the term child marriage refers to early marriage. Personally, I prefer to refer to early marriage as child marriage in order to give the topic more attention to raise awareness on this subject. To have a standard marriage age is difficult since each country has its own regulations and laws that differ from one another.  Many conservative societies take advantage of the law and the religion to force marriage through counterfeit birth certificates. Other societies swindle the age of the girl by the name of culture and tradition practices. Girls married at the age of 6 years old are still children, as are girls married at age 15. Unfortunately, child marriage practice is still common even though local and international laws prevent it, but somehow people find their ways to go around the laws when it comes to marry a girl. Breaking through the laws is done using religion and traditional practices which is a violation of human rights, specifically children rights. Child marriage is only the leading beginning for teenage pregnancy. Teenage pregnancy is also well known within the frame of marriage or outside marriage. Either ways, this pregnancy is a challenge for the mother and society as a whole, which could place the health of the mother and child at high risks.

In 2011, I was touched by a story entitled "Too Young to Wed: The Secret World of Child Brides" written by the journalist Stephanie Sinclair. The story is centered on a girl from Yemen who was married at the age of 6 years old to a grown man and she was a wife in the full sense of the word. She had not reached puberty and so had not have children at first. But, this was expected from her as soon as her husband intercourse with her. Because of how much this story touched me, I decided to write about child marriage and young pregnancy as practices that still exist nowadays.
In this paper, the aim is to highlight these two concepts and their impact in delaying the achieving of theMillennium Development Goals 4 and 5 (calling for a two – thirds reduction in child deaths and a three – fourths reduction in maternal mortality by 2015 ).

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