Nor does the future look rosy

What it’s like to be a child and a mother.

Many of the babies are born with complications, far from the nearest hospital, and the mortality rate for mother and infant is sky-high.

Nor does the future look rosy. The daughters of these child brides are born into a cycle of systemic abuse, violence and poverty.

“I thought I’d have a better life, but at the end, it didn’t turn out that way,” says Aracely, who was married to a 34-year-old when she was 11. When she was four months’ pregnant, her husband left, declaring the child wasn’t his. Now 15, she is raising her son on her own.

“During the time I was pregnant, he didn’t give me any money,” she says. “He hasn’t even come to see the boy now that he’s a year old.”

Aracely is one of the girls who feature in photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair’s Too Young To Wed project on Guatemala, where it’s legal for a girl to marry as young as 14 — though many are married far younger than that.

The UNFPA says one in nine girls in developing nations will marry before 15, with 50 million likely to marry before their 15th birthday in this decade. They are usually poor, less educated and living in rural areas — and their early marriages make life even worse.

Puberty is a death sentence for many girls, and a stunted life sentence for a whole lot more. It’s tragic.

“Sadly, child marriage directly affects approximately 14 million girls a year, and in the process legitimises human rights violations and the abuse of girls under the guise of culture, honour, tradition, and religion. It is part of a sequence of discrimination that begins at a girl’s birth and continues throughout her entire life.”

This weekend, the group launched a global report on sex discriminatory laws around the world, using the hashtag #unsexylaws.

It shows in shocking clarity that these discriminatory laws are not simply relics of the past. Just last year, Kenya adopted a marriage act that permits polygamy without consent of the first wife, while Iran’s 2013 penal code maintains that a woman’s testimony is worth less than a man’s.

An Indian Act from 2013 states: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape”.

There’s more, lots more. There’s Equality Now’s 2014 report, Protecting the Girl Child.


  1. Katydid says

    Right’chere in the good ol’ Merkuh, them Duck Dynasty dudes are speaking to fundagelicals about marrying girls of 13, because if you let them mature, then they have backbones and wills of their own.

  2. Jackie the social justice WIZZARD!!! says

    My grandmothers were both 14 when they first married. I’m 39 and US American. One went on to be abused for most of her life. At one point she was forced to work until she miscarried. The other was encouraged to prostitute herself to support her husband. (Her mother had the marriage annulled, thankfully and she got away.) We aren’t all that far removed from this at all.

  3. Katydid says

    @Jackie; that’s horrible. I am the grandchild of immigrants (all 4 grandparents were born in countries that were not America); one grandmother married at 19, the other at 22. I thought that was young, but I’m appalled at what I hear coming out of the American south and south-west. The Mormons have a whole cottage industry of marrying off girls barely in their teens, often against their will (that’s what Idaho is for–it’s a place to stuff the 12-year-olds forced to be the 18th wife of 50-year-old men). So many of my co-workers here in the south proudly brag that their grandmother was 14 or 15 when she got married, and she had 15 kids.

  4. Crimson Clupeidae says

    I have extended family living in the Philippines, and there is much there that is similar to what is described here as well. The fact that the number of relatives I know, who have had a family member murdered right in front of them is >1 bothers me daily, but there’s little we can do from here, sadly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *