Poverty And Cultural Traditions: The Practice Of Child Marriage

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The legal marriage age in America, with parental consent, is eighteen years old. This provides a chance for young adults to be prepared both physically and mentally for marriage. However in Niger, the legal marriage age is fifteen years old. Children, specifically girls, are forced to undergo these uncivilized marriages. Child marriages classify as a civil rights violation, but they are still practiced everyday. The practice of child marriage in Niger is fueled by two factors: poverty and cultural tradition. …show more content…
Child marriages have been considered normal in Niger because it has been practiced for years and no one has really gone against it. The girls have no say in whether they approve of this marriage or not. Families believe that going against tradition could mean rejection from their community. In these communities, child marriages seem as if it is a social requirement. Parents worry that if their daughter is not married off early, she will not be able to be married at all. She will be be excluded from the community, thus resulting in the loss of her family’s honor. The practice of child marriage is “justified as a tradition or customary practice essential to preserving a family’s ‘honor”’ (“Review”). This fact indicates that families believe that their place in society is more important their daughter. A girl’s virginity is also closely related to the family 's honor. Parent want to marry off their daughter young because they believe it will, ensure that she is not sexually active and to “prevent out-of-wedlock births”, which also preserves their family’s honor (“Child Marriage”: Council...). A healthy, virgin girl equals a better chance of her getting married and more goods for the …show more content…
Parents believe that marrying off their daughter is the “best way to protect her from sexual violence, and that her husband will provide her with everything” (Early Marriage...). However, the truth is that this is the opposite. Child marriage is usually the start of endless abuse, premature pregnancy, and loss of opportunity. Most girls are impregnated at a very young age. Premature pregnancy leads to birth defects, and in some cases death during labor. These girls are required to give birth before their bodies are fully mature. This premature pregnancy lead to girls being diagnosed with obstetric fistula, a condition that causes chronic incontinence and occurs commonly in young girls who give birth before their bodies are mature (“Child Marriage”: Council...). According to the World Health Organization, “pregnancy complications remain the leading cause of death among girls aged fifteen to nineteen in low- and middle- income countries,” including Niger. Early marriage also increases the vulnerability of HIV. Most girls are married off to men who are significantly older than her, which points toward domestic abuse and nonconsensual sex (“Child Marriage”: Council...). Some girls have a choice of splitting from her spouse, but when split they are left with nothing. The girls have little earning power, education opportunities and financial support. With little or no financial support

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