The sufferings, statistics and the ultimate darkness behind early marriages are so immense and harsh in their reality, that to many, they simply appear to be fictional and hence, nonexistent. But surrounding yourself with black glass walls does not mean that the realities of the outside world change. According to estimates by UNICEF, “worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday.” A lot more keeps getting added to this figure with each passing day.
One third of these women are in India. While the world knows us for the big-fat-Indian-wedding phenomena, not many of us want to talk about that section of the country and also the world at large, where young girls face a completely different and a horribly dark face of early marriages.
Worldwide, a large number of brides are still children. They are not even teenagers yet. Walk into the remote villages of Rajasthan and you might come across a girl passing by in the complete attire of a newlywed bride. Tourists might ignore this or take a few pictures with her, thinking that it is their general traditional attire, but the truth goes deep beyond.
Covered behind the veils of tradition, the other common reasons stated by families for taking this practice forward are poverty, to safeguard the family’s honour and the need to protect girls from rapes and other forms of violence and sexual assault. What families don’t realise is that they are forcing their girl into a life of similar and in some cases, even worse consequences.
Families need enough knowledge to understand the inevitable harms of early marriages, and girls need enough power to say no. In this video, Irrfan Khan sums it up for you.
Irrfan Khan joins Breakthrough in the fight against child marriage in India.