They should be playing, learning about the shapes and colors they see in the sky, enjoying their childhood, nestled in their mother’s affections, but a growing number of children as young as 5 years old are being cordoned of as brides. Welcome to the insidious world of arranged marriages as common as raindrops on a sultry day in the developing world.
dailymailco.uk: Wide-eyed and haunted, the heartbreaking expressions on these young girls’ faces hint at an innocence cruelly snatched away.
They should be playing, learning and enjoying their childhood. But instead these youngsters, some as young as five, are being married off in secret weddings. It is estimated that every year this happens to ten to 12 million girls in the developing world.
In India, the girls will typically be attached to boys four or five years older. But in Yemen, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and other countries with even higher rates of marriage at an early age, the husbands may be young men, middle-aged widowers or even abductors who rape first and claim their victims as wives afterwards.
To many of us in the western world such arrangements are hard to comprehend, let alone fathom. True the depiction of the western woman so often hinges on her desirability, her appearances and if she correctly subscribes to the social demands in western society she will find her match- not that necessarily guarantees eternal happiness. But who said marriage had anything to do with happiness?
Some of these marriages are business transactions or to resolve a family feud.
Forced early marriage thrives in many regions, often in defiance of national laws. Whole communities often prescribe to the notion that it is as an appropriate way for a young woman to grow up when the alternative is the risk she loses her virginity to someone before she marries.
Wedding ceremonies are often held in the middle of the night, with the whole village keeping the secret for fear there might be a police raid.
Police raids? How are we to reckon with children as young as 5 (in fact any age) being ostensibly auctioned off the way one offers cash for a new mule to help in the yielding of the family farm? What does this necessarily imply about the value of a woman in the developing world and why do so many still ascribe to this demeaning disposition of women? Are we to really believe women are just surrogate facilitators of the next generation, who should be brought to the fold once the first signs of puberty become apparent? At this level one might be forgiven in thinking that women are some sort of livestock that one keeps in incubators until they are sufficiently plump to release to those who consume such morsels…
Three years ago, the case of Nujood Ali came to worldwide attention. The ten-year-old Yemeni girl managed to escape her home and made her way to a courthouse to request a divorce from the man in his 30s her father had forced her to marry and who beat her.