By Aditi Salkar:
For most of us, a wedding day is something to look forward to. To plan and prepare. Or something to look back with fond memories of a choice once made. But not for Anjali.
Anjali loved to study and dreamed of becoming a doctor. Going to school was the only thing that made her happy, gave her hope. But when she was 14, and just after she got her periods, her parents told her she had to quit school and that she was too old for school. Her parents convinced her that getting married is the right thing to do and forced her to marry a man who was almost a decade older than her, whom she never met before. From wanting to be a doctor all she is now is a child bride.
Violence against women and girls is a global problem that affects millions of women every year. In fact, it is estimated that one in three women and girls experience violence in their lifetime. Child marriage is a manifestation of that violence. Each year, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18. That’s one girl every 2 seconds. Child marriage puts women and girls at particular risk of sexual, physical and psychological violence throughout their lives.
While no extensive research has been done on the causes, the reasons across regions given were:
When global development professionals talk about child marriage and how to eradicate it, they often focus on health and societal consequences, like how early marriage rises a girl’s risk of dying during childbirth or how child marriage perpetuates poverty, etc. However, other serious health effects of child marriage — like depression and anxiety — tend to get overlooked.
Child marriage had a significant impact on not just women’s but also men’s psychological well-being. Being forced into marriage (often to a stranger) and the burden of marital responsibilities, most notably partner’s sexual demands and childbearing and child-rearing, lead to significant emotional distress and depression. Mental health implications may include a sense of worthlessness, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Effects of early marriages can lead to several psychological illnesses and disorders such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, manic disorders, dissociative disorders, etc.
Due to early marriages, young children are denied an appropriate childhood and adolescence while they are forced to grow up and act in a mature way. Denying young children their childhood hampers their overall growth and development because of which they don’t have the ability to deal with responsibilities, early pregnancy and pregnancy-related mortality and morbidity, causing major physiological and psychological health issues, resulting in losing relationship confidence and ability to maintain a healthy relationship.
Child marriages rob children of their sense of empowerment and personal identity; also an incomplete education leads to lack of employment and career prospects – all of which contribute to the cyclical nature of poverty, gender inequality and child marriage.
Child Marriage is a major psychological trauma and a menace that cannot be curbed without support from the society. Mere legislation will not serve the purpose unless there is support and backing from the society. How can a country prosper when a section of young women and men are confined by prejudice of the society and the only thing expected from them is rearing and caring of children? What is required on the part of the citizens and the government in general is to join hands and raise a movement so wide that every child is made aware of their rights and everyone in society knows the repercussions of child marriage.
Is child marriage a criminal offence? YES! Can one be punished for abetting in or being associated with a child's marriage? Absolutely!Find out about the act in place for child marriage in India and what is the price one needs to pay when one violates this act. It's time we #EndChildMarriage! Are you with us? Share this video!#FreetoBeAChildUNICEF India UFO Digital Cinema नवी उमेद Navi UmedShaishav Child Rights Child line Pratham Books Child Rights Connect Child Rights Movement Aarambh – An Initiative Against Child Sexual Abuse Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India
Posted by Nine is Mine on Wednesday, October 17, 2018
If we work together to tackle child marriage, we can create a world where children are empowered, in charge of their own destinies, and able to live their lives free from violence. This is a world that makes all of us better off.
The author is a Psychotherapist at PRATYeK.