70 million will be married as kids next five years: UN

“I was 16 and never missed a day at school,” recalled Komal, who was forced to drop out of school and become a child bride. “I had to leave it all as my parents had bartered me for a girl my elder brother was to marry.”

Such marriages, in which a girl is married off in exchange for a bride for her male relative, are called ‘atta-satta’ in Komal’s community in Rajasthan, India. Komal feared the marriage would derail her plans: she had always dreamed of going to university and getting a good job.

“I was sad and angry. I pleaded with my mother, but my father had made up his mind,” she said.

“My only hope was that my husband would let me complete my studies. But he got me pregnant even before I turned 17. Since then, I have hardly ever been allowed to step out of the house.”

Komal struggles with married life. She loves her daughter, but she is blamed for not having a son.

“Sometimes, when the others are not at home, I read my old school books and hold my baby and cry,” she said.

In late 2013, Haneen, now 14, fled Syria with her parents and 10 siblings. As her family made its way to the Turkish border, her father sustained injuries that left him paralyzed. Fearing he could no longer feed his 11 children or protect his daughters, he married Haneen, then 13, off to a middle-aged Turkish man. The family didn’t even know his name.

“When we left Syria, we had nothing to eat. We ate hunger, and we used to hear about kidnapping and rape all the time,” said Haneen’s father. “I thought Haneen would be safe if she got married.”

He soon found out that he was wrong.

Shortly after Haneen’s marriage, the family received a small sum of money, and decided they might fare better in Lebanon. They soon departed Turkey, leaving Haneen behind with her new husband. Three months later, her mother received a call.

Through her tears, Haneen reported that she had tried to commit suicide twice and that her husband regularly beat and mistreated her. Also, barely 14, she said that she was pregnant. “Haneen was scared, and she didn’t know anyone in Turkey,” says her mother. “She was all alone.”

These girls and their tragic stories are not alone.

The United Nations says that despite near-universal commitments to end child marriage, approximately one in three girls in the developing world (excluding China) is married or in a union before age 18.

 If nothing is done to change this trend, an estimated 70 million girls will be married as children over the next five years. This is tens of thousands of girls every single day.

This month a group of local heroes are doing their bit to help to abolish early and forced marriage.

They will be holding a gala event called ‘Not Yet For The Dress’ on May 28th at the Krause Berry Farms in Langley.

“This global event will give you the chance to help by proclaiming that you are determined to help put an end to the atrocity, your voice uniting with your peers in objection, and your ticket purchase will reflect your commitment,” said Kerry Gibson, the events organising director and a UN Planet 50/50 champion.

The evening will be filled with top-tier entertainment by multiple Grammy award winning musicians led by Ricky Kej, enlightenment from global expert Mandy Sanghera, words of welcome by United Nations diplomats and First Nations leaders, an exclusive personalized video by Madame Sophie Gregoire in support of the cause introduced by Minister Randeep Sarai Leader of the Pacific Caucus, and an auction on a special surprise from famed Italian goldsmith, Gerardo Sacco.

For more details on the event please go to https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/not-yet-for-the-dress-tickets-33235787134

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/events/1866892113529209/


Myths about child marriage


Child marriage is rare.

Child marriage is actually quite common. About 1 in 3 girls in the developing world are married before age 18. New estimates from UNFPA show that this year alone, 13.5 million children – most of them girls – will be married before they turn 18. About 4.4 million of them will be married before they turn 15. This equals 37,000 child marriages each day.


It only happens in Muslim/African/poor countries.

Actually, child marriage takes place all over the world, across continents, cultures and religions. It even happens in wealthy Western countries – including the United States and United Kingdom. But it is much more common in the developing world because one of the main driving factors is poverty. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 10 per cent of girls are child brides. In the Arab States, 19 per cent of girls are. In other regions, the number rises as high as 43 per cent.

The majority of child marriages take place in Asia and the Pacific, the most populous region. There, about 40 million girls are child brides.


It only happens to girls.

It is true that the vast majority of child marriages involve girls. But boys can be married off, just as girls are. Estimates from UNICEF suggest that about 18 per cent of those married before age 18 are boys, while about 82 per cent are girls.


Only monsters would allow their daughters to be married off as children.

It can be hard to imagine why someone would choose to have their child married off. But for millions of people, child marriage can seem like the best – or only – option. Impoverished parents, for example, often believe marriage will secure a daughters’ future by making another family responsible for her care. And parents in humanitarian crises, where sexual violence is rampant, may see child marriage as a way to protect their daughters. In fact, child marriage rates have been known to skyrocket during the chaos of war.


This issue doesn’t affect me.

When the potential of a third of all girls in the developing world is undermined, everyone is affected. The loss of their collective potential is immeasurably huge, and it touches every economy and workforce in the world. Try to imagine a world where tens of millions more girls are educated, healthy and empowered, where every community benefits from the full bloom of their creativity and resourcefulness. Because of child marriage, their ideas, abilities and solutions are lost to all of us.

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