I experienced a flavor of Child Marriage when I was teaching a bunch of kids as part of a volunteer’s team at my workplace. It was a college going girl not yet 18 years of age who was getting married. She was my student and quite a bright one.
I remember my conversations with her.
“What to do, ma’am? My parents are forcing me. He comes from a good family.”
“He is also earning well. My parents say that he will keep me happy. I think so too.”
“I have never met him but my brother says that he is a decent guy”
In all my conversations with her, all I could feel was that she was brainwashed to believe that this is supposed to be best that she can get. We tried getting in touch with her parents, trying to explain them why she needs to complete her education first and be independent first. But all in vain! She got married at 16 and I never heard from her again.
She did not get the wings to fly, a single chance to explore and build her own identity. Why? Because the guy is earning well and comes from a good family. Is that enough?
I was 22 when my parents started a groom search for me. And every time they found a guy who was earning well and comes from a good family – I would be haunted by it. I was quite over the permissible age of marriage and hence cannot really compare it with the child marriage but I was quite a child, not as mature to really know what marriage means and what companionship really is. I could have been easily molded into whatever my husband and his family wanted. I could have never been a person with my own opinions and aspirations. Eventually, I got married at 25 to the guy I loved and I still think that it was early.
Well, coming back to child marriage. I cannot imagine what a 15 year old girl would go through when she is married off to a guy who comes from a good family and is earning well. With a minimum level of education – she is totally at the will of her husband and his family. They can keep her happy like the queen of the house or they can make her a servant who is never paid. Either ways, it is a loss for her because it is not as per her own wish. Where was she given a chance to explore her own thoughts and build her identity on them?
I get shivers when I think how would she take off her clothes and be intimate with a man she hardly knows. To what levels she would have to surrender herself for the sake of her survival? Physically, financially, mentally and socially; in every aspect of her life she would only have to survive on her husband. What a pity? Why do we have to do this to our daughters?
Empowered individuals create empowered societies and cities and nations and world. Subjugating half the population of the world in the name gender is only going to pull the whole world down.