Friday, September 18, 2009

An End to Child Marriages

On September 13th, 12-year old Fawziya Abdullah Youssef died of severe bleeding while giving birth to a still-borne baby in Yemen.

Fawziya is one of many girls in developing nations who are forced into marriage. She was 11 years old when she married. Often, these girls are as young as 7 or 8 years old, though marriage sometimes happens at an even earlier age.

Child marriage, legally defined as marriage before the age of 18, has countless negative effects on young women. Child brides face higher rates of maternal mortality, infant mortality, HIV/AIDS, and obstetric festula, a condition that is caused by obstructed labor and leads to social ostracism due to incontinence, than adult brides.

Furthermore, child brides are often forced to drop out of school and are more likely to live in poverty and continue living in poverty than adult brides.

The problem of child brides is becoming more pressing than ever, especially with worsening economic conditions worldwide. Poor families marry off their girls in the hopes of either recieving a large dowry or ridding their family of an economic burden.

The only way to prevent child marriages is to improve the standard of living in developing nations and empower young women in those nations. That is why Feminist Majority supports the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2009 (HR2410 and S987). It is our hope that these bills pass and that the US will be instrumental in stopping child marriages and giving the child brides a chance to live the life they choose.

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