MOSCOW, October 9 (RIA Novosti) — About 39,000 non-adult girls worldwide get married every day, frequently forced to marriage by their parents due to social traditions or the desire to reduce financial expenses, according to the UNICEF.
Such practice is especially widespread in poor countries as Mali, Bangladesh, Niger, Mozambique, or in the regions, as South Asia or Middle East where an early marriage represents a cultural and social tradition. In many communities, child marriage is rooted in gender discrimination as girls are not appreciated as much as boys and considered a burden for their families. In attempt to marry off their non-adult daughters, parents often deprive them of normal life, education opportunities and community involvement. After marriage, girls often suffer from social isolation and health problems caused by early pregnancies and domestic violence.
In order to raise awareness in the society about the issue of child marriage and draw attention to the problems girls face in their new “adult life”, an international aid organization Plan launched a public campaign, creating an internet blog in the name of 12-year old Norwegian girl named Thea. “Thea”, recently revealed to be a fake person, wrote in the blog about her impending wedding with a 37-year old man and expressed fears about aspects of her future “family life” such as sex and children. Her block was read by half a million readers and has attracted international attention.
“We have all kinds of people engaging, people who are not usually motivated or involved in these kinds of things – the response has been immense,” said Plan’s director Olaf Thommessen. “We really wanted to bring home the issue and by creating a shock factor, we think we have really got peoples’ attention.”
Child marriage is considered by many international organizations a violation of human rights. Girls are often beaten and tortured by their husbands after getting married, some of them are even too young to understand what a word “husband” means. A Yemeni girl Sally as-Sabahi, whose marriage was arranged by her parents when she was 10, agreed to become a second wife of her 25-year old cousin after her mother showed her a beautiful white dress and jewellery, she always dreamed of, Aljazeera reported. Her marriage was, however, far from a fairy tale. After 15 years full of rape and maltreatment she managed to get a divorce, but also a serious psychological trauma and health complications, IOFA reported.
According to UN statics, current trends of child marriage are going on, especially in poor, rural communities. The number of girls married before the age of 18 could reach 150 million in the next decade, leading to a rise of sexual abuse and domestic violence cases worldwide.