Child marriage occurs on every continent and across many cultures. It does affect both young boys and girls, although underage girls are far more likely to be forced into marriage. Gender inequality is often at the root of this practice. Although other factors like tradition and poverty contribute to the decision to marry off young girls as well. Girls who are forced into marriage before turning 18 years old are far less likely to finish basic education. Research also shows that child brides are more likely to suffer from domestic violence than women who were able to choose when to get married. These young girls are forced into womanhood at an early age, pushed into household responsibilities instead of attending school playing as their male counterparts are able to do. Additionally, child brides quickly become young, adolescent mothers which come with many negative consequences. These are discussed below.
Pre-Maternal Health Care of Child Brides
Loss Of Childhood Pleasures
Most girls in this situation have not yet learned about family planning and safe sex. This lack of knowledge combined with the fact that their husbands are often older men makes it difficult for these children to have a voice in their sexual activity. As a result, they have an increased chance of early pregnancy. Given that the bodies of adolescent girls are not yet fully developed, the burden of pregnancy is a dangerous health risk. Child brides are more likely to experience long-term health problems and death during childbirth. In fact, complications during pregnancy and childbirth are one of the leading causes of death among girls between the ages of 15 and 19. Young mothers are not the only people to suffer health problems. Their babies have higher chances to die or be stillborn. If they do survive the birthing process, they are less likely to live through their first year of life.
Lack Of Independence
As previously mentioned, child brides do not have a decision-making role in family planning decisions. This lack of power is present in all aspects of their lives, leaving them unable to visit family and friends and with little means of receiving health information. Adolescent wives may even need permission from their husbands to access healthcare. Since they have limited access to health services, either from a lack of permission or lack of local infrastructure, home deliveries are more prominent in child brides. Home deliveries are attended by untrained individuals which only increases the likelihood of life-threatening complications like postpartum hemorrhaging.
These adolescent mothers are also at increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted infections, cervical cancer, and obstetric fistulas. Obstetric fistulas can leave girls unable to control their excretory functions, become infected, and result in death. The probability of developing this is increased due to obstructed labors which occur when the mother’s pelvic area is too small, young age being an underlying factor. They can be corrected via expensive surgeries that husbands and families are either unwilling or unable to pay.
Impact of Childhood Marriage
Nothing about childhood marriage is healthy for society. Fifteen million underage girls are married off every year, deprived of their right to education, healthcare, and personal safety. These children are not emotionally prepared to become wives and mothers; they are stripped of their most important development years. Prohibited from being children, child brides are forced into adulthood with adult responsibilities and are unable to escape the poverty that placed them in these marriages. This practice is an absolute violation of human rights.
Poor Pre-Maternal Health Care Received By Child Brides In Countries Across The World
|Rank||Country||Married Before Age 15||Married At Age 18 Or Older|