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 January 03, 2012


In The Name of ALLAH The Almighty


“I am one of those unfortunate Hindu women whose hard lot is to suffer the unnamable miseries entailed by the custom of early marriage. This wicked practice of child marriage has destroyed the happiness of my life. It comes between me and the thing which I prize above all others – study and mental cultivation. Without the least fault of mine I am doomed to seclusion; every aspiration of mine to rise above my ignorant sisters is looked upon with suspicion and is interpreted in the most uncharitable manner.”(Rukhambai, Letter to the Times of India, 26 June 1885).

Early marriage is also named as child marriage, it is marriage before 18 years of the persons chronological age or marriages before the persons physical, physiological, and psychological readiness to the responsibilities put on his/her shoulders in the name of marriage.

After marriage both husband and wife are entering into a totally new world of responsibilities and people expectations from them also increase and they are considered as the fully responsible members of the society. But if they are not what people are expecting them to be then it turns their life into hell like situation and thus every breath they take bring a new problem to their life instead of happiness.

According to UNICEF statistical study on early marriage this harmful practice is most common in South Asia where 54% of 15-24 years old were married before they reach 18 years of their chronological age. In Africa it is 42%, Latin America and Caribbean 29%.In Middle East child marriage is more common in Palestine and Yemen. While talking about our own country Pakistan I feel more concentration must be put on this issue as it is more common. Many times in Pakistan the marriages are not documented, especially in the rural areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhaw, Sindh, Punjab and most part of the Baluchistan. With this the birth certificates are sometime not reliable as in the past the system of childbirth was run by untrained birth attendants called the “DAI” who did not have any birth certificates to document on that the child birth and later on when child was taken to school his/her age was guessed so this also effects the data collection of early marriages a lot.

To control child marriage its important to know what actually cause people to marry before entering their adulthood .Many factors are responsible among them poverty plays a greater role. When there is acute poverty parent think their child will contribute to their economic stability when he/she gets married, it will decrease parents burden and in some cases when people fail to return someone’s money which was lended to them they think of their child the only thing they have in return. Some culture also having the concept of young girls, a resource with which their parents can attain greater wealth. Instead of making them stable the get into many more problems and financially they get more poor than before. It make their social relations poor than it was before the marriage. Honor is another factor contributing a lot to early marriage, some people think that there is a risk of breaking virginity when child is in home without marrying and to maintain the “family honor” the child may marry earlier. Cultures with gender discrimination support early marriage too. They think a female child inferior and thus as soon as possible the try to find a place to send the child to and whenever they find a male willing to marry the child they welcome him and thus they feel better. In some of the countries there are no adequate laws present which declare child marriage illegal or laws are there but they fail to stop this harmful practice as they are not followed by the people living in that specific area. Trafficking and prostitution also push a child into marriage. Women from one part of the globe are transported to another part ensuring them that they will get more money and other facilities and a better life style.

Coming to the consequences of the early marriage the first and major consequence is physical and sexual problems which arise from the early marriage. As woman marry she is forced by her husband into sexual activity being not sexually mature she faces lots of problems and may end into death during pregnancy or during childbirth. Some studies show that for underage married women there is also chance of getting sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS and many others. One of the reasons they give to support this idea is that their husband may be having multiple partners as there is higher divorce rate among underage partners. Early marriage also has considerable implications on the social development of child brides, as they lack personal autonomy it becomes difficult for them to develop good social relations with people living around them. Thus they limit their social life up to their husband only and whatever he do either harassment or some other illegal action she can not communicated it to others. This thing also puts the woman into psychological problems and different mental diseases. She becomes emotionally ill.

After looking at all these consequences of early marriage now the only thing is that we have to do is making strict laws against early marriage at governmental level and educating the public about the effect of early marriage on the child’s health, his/her health and its effects on other people who get indirectly involve in such harmful practices.

Inam Khan Yaftali
Aga Khan University Karachi.



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